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Chinese artist dumps 1,000 gold ‘rice’ grains to protest food waste

Chinese artist dumps 1,000  gold ‘rice’ grains to protest food waste
Yang Yexin says he’s turned a ‘blind eye’ towards the allegations

A Chinese artist’s attempt to draw attention to food wastage by throwing away pure or in the shape of 1,000 rice grains has seemingly backfired after people accused him of wastefulness.

Artist Yang Yexin had uploaded a video on social media platform Weibo on Sunday that showed him throwing away the gold-shaped grains into Shanghai’s drains, dustbins, grass and the Huangpu river, in a bid to draw attention to food wastage.

Mr Yang threw the grains away between 15 et 16 octobre. Every year World Food Day is observed on 16 October by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Mr Yang said the “rice” grains were made using 500 grams of gold worth over 200,000 yuan (over £22,660). The grains were made by a jeweller to reflect the actual size and shape of real rice.

“Wasting ordinary things cannot arouse people’s interest now. Only extreme wastage can make people see how serious the issue is and then change their mindset and behaviour,” he wrote in the video’s caption, signalé Poste du matin du sud de la Chine (SCMP).

Mr Yang’s video, which he also described as “sarcasm over food waste,” did not go down well with social media users, selon les rapports des médias locaux.

One social media user on Weibo described the video as “a perfect marketing stunt”.

“It is better to support the areas hit by natural disasters and use the money to buy harvesters for those who lost their crops in floods,” said the social media user.

Another user, reacting to the video, said throwing away gold was also a form of wastage.

Plus que 60 pourcentage de 27,000 Weibo users reacting to the story till Monday afternoon said they thought the act was wasteful, claimed a poll conducted by Beijing-based journal China Newsweek and cited by SCMP.

Mr Yang pushed back against the allegations. “I have received many attacks but I turn a blind eye on them,” he was quoted as saying by the Temps mondial.

Other artists also came out in support of Mr Yang and said his message had been misinterpreted.

“People have the wrong impression that gold is more precious than rice, the thing that supports our life. Many years ago when gold was not traded, rice was more precious,” Li, an artist from Beijing, dit au Temps mondial.

“Yang’s video simply reflects a social phenomenon and calls for people’s attention to it. This is valuable as it has made the public aware of the food waste problem,” Tang Xiao, a contemporary sculpture artist based in Chengdu, in southwest China’s Sichuan province, a dit à la sortie.

Mr Yang runs an advertising firm and has won awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, according to his Weibo profile cited by the outlet.

Environ 17 per cent of food produced worldwide, amounting to an estimated 931 million tons of wasted food, was thrown away in 2019, selon le Food Waste Index Report of 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme.

China has sought to crack down on videos promoting food wastage and also passed a law earlier this year banning binge-eating videos and excessive leftovers.