lukas, February 12, 2011 (view all comments by lukas)
Basically, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," but with fish. It's not exactly that, but it's clearly benefiting from the momentum of the new food consciousness. Greenberg picks four key fish (salmon, tuna, bass, cod) and traces their history, our consumption of them and what might happen if we don't curb fishing. It's not as thoughtful, nuanced and provocative as Michael Pollan, but if you eat fish on a regular basis, you should probably read this. Makes a good double feature with that "Cod" book.
J Green, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by J Green)
Mankind has often looked upon the ocean as a bountiful place capable of providing a near-endless supply of food. We even sort of romanticize those who brave the elements, from Moby Dick and yesterday's whalers to today's "Deadliest Catch." And for reasons of abundance or convenience or perhaps just taste, we've settled upon four main fish which serve as our principal "seafood": salmon, bass, cod, and tuna. But, as fishing has become increasingly commercial and efficient, we're in danger of destroying the wild populations of these fish and the ecosystems they depend upon and that are dependent upon them.
Paul Greenburg has written an excellent and surprisingly readable book about our relationship with the sea and its bounty. He does this not from a solely environmentalist perspective, but also as a fisherman and one who enjoys eating fish. He discusses the advantages of wild vs. farmed fish - the destructive practices of each which imperil future stocks. With farming, in particular, the four are very poor candidates for captive rearing (although the lessons learned so far have been essential and can be applied elsewhere). He also explores potential replacements against a checklist of qualities that should ensure greater success (the same qualities that have been proven in terrestrial farming).
I was *very* surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I've never been a huge eater of seafood, although I've recently begun ordering it more often when we eat out. But I most appreciated the scientific aspect of the book that seeks to find the best possible balance, moving beyond the simple red or green seafood cards to maximizing a sustainable harvest while protecting resources. He acknowledges there are no easy answers, but leans a little too heavily on regulation as if illegal poaching wouldn't increase with such measures. But overall, an important read for all those who are concerned about the future of the oceans and the last wild food.
In the vein of The Omnivore's Dilemma, Four Fish looks at the current state of tuna, bass, salmon, and cod. Fished, farmed, modified, and championed, these four make up the bulk of our fish consumption. New York Times magazine writer Greenberg explores the past, present, and future of global aquaculture.
by Kirkus Reviews (starred review),
"Hugely informative, sincere and infectiously curious and enthusiastic."
The history of four fish — bass, cod, salmon, and tuna — exposes a critical moment in our relationship with the truly last wild food we consume.
Our species is more profoundly connected to the sea than we ever realized, as an intrepid cadre of scientists, athletes, and explorers is now discovering. Deep follows these adventurers into the ocean to report on the latest findings about its wondrous biology and#8212; and unimagined human abilities.
The deep sea remains Earthand#8217;s final frontier. And as James Nestor reveals, adventurous scientistsand#8217; current quests to solve the mysteries of the ocean are transforming not only our knowledge of the planet and its creatures, but also our understanding of the human body and mind. Over the course of the book, Nestor journeys from the oceanand#8217;s surface and#8212; where the extreme sport of freediving pushes the boundaries of human physical endurance and#8212; to its greatest, most otherworldly depth, 35,000 feet below sea level at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Along the way he finds and#8220;telepathicand#8221; corals that synchronize their blooming even though theyand#8217;re hundreds of miles apart, octopus species that thrive in 300-degree water, sharks that swim in unerringly straight lines through pitch blackness, and, most illuminating of all, the human pioneers whose discoveries are expanding our definition of what is possible in the natural world, and in ourselves.
"A necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why." -Sam Sifton, The New York Times Book Review.
Writer and life-long fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a journey, examining the four fish that dominate our menus: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. Investigating the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, Greenberg reveals our damaged relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants. Just three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today, rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex marketplace. Four Fish offers a way for us to move toward a future in which healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.
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