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The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg

Sushi and the Global Economy

A review by Bina Venkataraman

Stories of how food makes it to your dinner table tend to be less than appetizing in this age of free trade and free-range chicken. From Fast Food Nation to The Omnivore's Dilemma, learning about what we eat titillates the mind more often than the tongue. If this can be called a trend, Sasha Issenberg's The Sushi Economy is a notable exception: During the 2-1/2 weeks I spent reading it, I ate sushi six times.

Issenberg traces the rising tsunami that is the sushi trade from tuna fisheries where prize bluefin are caught, to sushi stalls on the Tokyo streets to high-fashion American restaurants. To him sushi is an exceptional manifestation of today's global economy: cross-cultural, unbranded, and with a link to the environment so fresh that it quivers. But even more distinctive, he notes, is the engine that drives this booming economy: personal tastes instead of corporate plans.

"In the sushi economy, power does not flow downward from the boardrooms of multinational corporations...

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