Het Cacao Monster

STICKY POST: Pictures from the exhibition in Maastricht, at the Markt, are here:


Introduction. For updates on the construction process just scroll down

Video presentation filmed at the International Fair Food Fair Nijmegen: https://vimeo.com/141567324


The Cocoa Monster (Het Cacao Monster in Dutch) is an attempt to visualize the complicated chain formed between the cocoa farmers in some of the poorest countries in the world and the chocolate consumers in The Netherlands. We’re paying billions in supermarkets on chocolate every year, so how can the farmers of its main ingredient still live in poverty? This art installation is one small step towards correcting this issue, by making the main elements of this broken system visible and interactive for the average consumer.

We need to be able to see the negative impacts on the other end of our food choices. We have the freedom and possibility to eat anything, but we only get in touch with the processed, mixed, roasted, packaged versions of raw commodities such as cocoa, coffee or tea. We should be able to see where certain ingredients come from; especially the ones which we cannot grow in the Netherlands, and which drive poverty and environmental degradation far away from home. Specifications such as country of origin or other label claims on food packaging, fail to even make us give a second thought to what truly is the story behind a simple chocolate.  We can’t deny that we love consuming it, and we also can’t deny that we are partly responsible for our ignorance. If our Dutch farmers would grow the cocoa, we wouldn’t accept their children not going to school and doing dangerous farm work, or cutting down the Veluwe and leaking chemical fertilizer into the Rhine. The big distance between us and these negative effects should not deny our roles in eliminating them. It is us who consume a relatively big share of the total harvest.

UPDATE. September 2015. Taking shape.

After many days of sweat in the Dutch summer sun, Het Cacao Monster is starting to take shape. The pictures don’t do it justice though, and the details are still to be added. Information is key and without it Het Monster can look unfriendly and weird. Oh wait, unfriendly is a good thing. It looks unclear. But this will improve.

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UPDATE. July 2015. A skeleton to build on.

We’ve put our feet in the ground and together with Nils from Scrap Design (check him out) we’ve built the frame which will support the cause. Hard metal was the only way to go. The aanhanger (trailer) base will make the monster move faster than any human. A true superpower.

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May 2015. The initial idea.

When I worked for a consultancy in Utrecht the day-to-day tasks revolved around the analysis of agricultural value chains. The goals is to find solutions for transforming entire agricultural sectors into more sustainable and fair intricate versions of themselves. Supply chains are affected by hundreds or thousands of factors, but some experts think we can identify and control the ones that can drive change.

Maybe it’s too late to mention this here, but many people who hear ‘agricultural value chain’, and who maybe do care a lot about the food they eat, will stop paying attention. Agricultural value chains is by definition a very complex, uncool term. That’s why I’m representing it in real life, as a tangible art installation, or sculpture. Everyone can now finally get a feel of what we’re these experts are talking about.

This idea was submitted to FoodGuerrilla’s contest for World Food Day. The effects on the public will be measured and people will have the opportunity to be part of the bigger impact created by Change in Choice.

Stefan - Change in Choice idea 2