A family planning to eat a fresh fish they bought at the market almost missed the meal after their baby boy ran away with it to keep him alive.
According to the boy’s father, who identified himself only by his surname Cheng, his preschooler stole the fish when he realized his grandmother was going to kill him for the family to eat.
Cheng said he bought the live fish from a wet market in Handan, northern China’s Hebei province, on July 19.
Wet markets are popular in China and Southeast Asia where they sell fresh meat and seafood; many sell live fish and other animals.
When he got home, Cheng said, he put the fish in a sink to keep it alive and fresh until it was time to cook it.
His son was delighted to see the live fish in the sink, Cheng said, and he allowed the boy to play with the animal.
But the boy’s grandmother wanted to kill the fish for midday lunch, so the child grabbed it and ran away.
As the video rolled, Cheng found his son crying and stroking the fish in an attempt to console him for his impending fate. Although fish need water to breathe, some species can survive for hours without it.
Cheng said he didn’t expect his son to become so attached to the family lunch. In the end, he killed the fish when his son wasn’t looking.
The Chinese people globally consume more fish than any other country on earth, but the sheer size of the Chinese population masks a different trend. The nation ranks 23rd in per capita fish consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
China is also the world’s largest fish exporter, recording $19.22 billion in trade with other countries in 2019 alone.
Much of that catch comes from remote locations on the Chinese mainland, according to the nonprofit. Blue Ocean Network. China has registered nearly 2,600 fishing vessels, an armada about 10 times larger than what the United States sends to the oceans, according to the NGO.
According to the non-profit China Africa Network, they travel as far as the Atlantic coast of West Africa, depleting ocean stocks that other nations depend on. The Chinese government subsidizes the construction and operation of these fleets, according to the US State Department.
Despite this, fish and other foodstuffs are in short supply in China as the COVID-19 pandemic has added economic pressure to all aspects of life there. According to agricultural consultancy Glaub Farm Management, pork and corn supplies have been the tightest, leading to dramatic price increases. China denies it is in a food crisis, but last year launched a nationwide “Clean Plate” public information campaign encouraging people to stop putting more food on their plates than they could eat.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.