This Rice-Paper Book Aims to Destigmatize Crops Grown Near the Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Serviceplan helps farmers of decontaminated fields

How do you turn the page on a nuclear disaster and help farmers sell rice again?

Environmental science organization Meter faced such a challenge as it strove to rebuild confidence in crops from Fukushima, Japan, a region contaminated by radiation when a tsunami damaged a local nuclear power plant in 2011.

After that tragedy, Meter joined with nonprofit Fukushima Saisei and Dr. Masaru Mizoguchi from the University of Tokyo to develop methods allowing farmers to grow safe rice. Still, stigma remained, depressing the price of Fukushima's harvests.

So, the team developed an elegant communications strategy, fusing medium and message to convey that the rice was no longer tainted. Working with creative agency Serviceplan, design shop Moby Digg and photographer Nick Frank, they created "Made in Fukushima," a handsome 300-page book brimming with charts, graphs, scientific data and interviews.

And as you'll see in this project video, they printed the volumes on paper made of rice straw from Fukushima's decontaminated fields:

METER Group | Made in Fukushima

Using 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of rice straw, premium handcraft specialists Gmund produced 1,000 volumes from the second half of 2018 through the end of last year.

"Meter didn't have the means to do a big campaign, and also engages in B2B rather than B2C, so we decided on a very focused approach," Serviceplan executive creative director Lorenz Langgartner tells Muse. Contacts in the scientific community, food safety and buying departments of processed food companies received the book. "The goal was to engage in personal conversations," he says.

Recently, the sale price of Fukushima rice rebounded 5 points, though "it would be audacious to attribute the macroeconomics to the book alone," Langgartner says. Also, the project won several international awards, including a Grand Prix and three golds at last month's ADC Germany show.

Now, if only some enterprising creatives could figure out how to grow an entire book, with compelling covers, text, illustrations…

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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