Chocolate. An invention of the Toltec Indians in the 10th century, chocolate has become the world’s sweetest indulgence and its consumption is ever-growing, shattering previous records. But what do we actually know of the background of this coveted brown substance? Most chocolate consumers are unaware of its origins, how cocoa beans are grown and the impact it has on an environmental and social level. Currently on at the Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum) in Amsterdam is an interesting multimedia exhibition which sheds light on cocoa cultivation in the West African country of Ivory Coast, a major exporter of the prized commodity.
Entitled For The Love Of Chocolate, the exhibition is a collab of Solidaridad, a globally operating NGO, and Dutch journalist Kadir van Lohuizen, and lays bare the infrastructure that supports the cultivation, trade and eventually consumption of cocoa beans and chocolate. As global chocolate consumption is rising fast, farmers in countries like Ivory Coast are unable to meet the increased demand unless better education is provided and more investments are made by all stakeholders. Van Lohuizen has documented the cultivation, trade and consumption of cocoa beans in a series of compelling and revealing portraits. After visiting farm communities, he witnesses how the commodity is being loaded onto a ship and travels to the port of Amsterdam, the world’s biggest cocoa trans-shipment hub, and onward to one of the biggest chocolate factories. The show not only aims to give viewers something to contemplate next time they reach for a chocolate bar or ice cream, but it also aims to promote sustainable cocoa cultivation. Plans are currently made to turn this showcase into a traveling exhibition. For The Love Of Chocolate can be viewed through February 16, 2014.
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