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“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
Acclaimed author of American Catch and The Omega Princple 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.
In this unusually entertaining and nuanced investigation into global fisheries, New York Times seafood writer Greenberg examines our historical relationship with wild fish. In the early 2000s, Greenberg, reviving his childhood fishing habit, discovered that four fish salmon, tuna, bass, and cod "dominate the modern seafood market" and that "each is an archive of a particular, epochal shift": e.g., cod, fished farther offshore, "herald the era of industrial fishing"; and tuna, "the stateless fish, difficult to regulate and subject to the last great gold rush of wild food... challeng us to reevaluate whether fish are at their root expendable seafood or wildlife desperately in need of our compassion." He found that as wild fisheries are overexploited, prospective fish farmers are likely to ignore practical criteria for domestication hardiness, freely breeding, and needing minimal care instead picking traditionally eaten wild-caught species like sea bass "a failure in every category." Greenberg contends that ocean life is essential to feeding a growing human population and that rational humans should seek to sustainably farm fish that can "stand up to industrial-sized husbandry" while maintaining functioning wild food systems.