Best-selling author of Four Fish Paul Greenberg looks to New York oysters, gulf shrimp, and Alaskan salmon to tell the surprising story of why Americans no longer eat from local waters.
In 2005, the United States imported 12 billion dollars' worth of seafood, nearly double what we had imported ten years earlier. During that same period, our seafood exports rose by a third. In American Catch, our foremost fish expert Paul Greenberg looks to New York oysters, gulf shrimp, and Alaskan salmon to reveal how it came to be that 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat is foreign.
As recently as 1928 the average New Yorker ate 600 local oysters a year. Today, the only edible oysters lie outside city limits. Looking at the trail of environmental desecration, Greenberg comes to view the New York City oyster as a reminder of what is lost when local waters are not valued as a food source. To understand the complications of our current moment, Greenberg visits the Gulf of Mexico. He arrives expecting to learn of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's lingering effects on shrimpers, but instead finds that the more immediate threat to business comes from overseas. Asian farmed shrimp - cheap, abundant, and a perfect vehicle for the frying and sauces Americans love - have flooded the American market.
Despite the challenges, hope abounds. In New York, Greenberg connects with an oyster restoration project with a vision for how the bivalves might save the city from rising tides; in the gulf, shrimpers band together to offer local catch direct to consumers. And in Bristol Bay, fishermen, environmentalists, and local Alaskans gather to roadblock Pebble Mine. In American Catch Paul Greenberg proposes there is a way to break the current destructive patterns of consumption and return the American catch back to American consumers.