Our relationship with the ocean is undergoing a profound transformation. 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 and confusing marketplace. We stand at the edge of a cataclysm; there is a distinct possibility that our children’s children will never eat a wild fish that has swum freely in the sea.
In Four Fish, award-winning writer and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus — salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna — and investigating where each stands at this critical moment in time. He visits Norwegian megafarms that use genetic techniques once pioneered on sheep to grow millions of pounds of salmon a year. He travels to the ancestral river of the Yupik Eskimos to see the only Fair Trade–certified fishing company in the world. He makes clear how PCBs and mercury find their way into seafood; discovers how Mediterranean sea bass went global; challenges the author of Cod to taste the difference between a farmed and a wild cod; and almost sinks to the bottom of the South Pacific while searching for an alternative to endangered bluefin tuna.
Fish, Greenberg reveals, are the last truly wild food — for now. By examining the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, he shows how we can start to heal the oceans and fight for a world where healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.
©2010 Paul Greenberg (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"An award-winning food journalist brilliantly dissects the relationship between humans and the four fish that dominate the seafood market....The narrative is grounded in common sense and anchored by first-rate, on-scene reporting from the Yukon and Mekong Rivers, Lake Bardawil in the Sinai Peninsula and the waters off the coasts of Long Island, Greece, Hawaii and the Shetland Islands. Hugely informative, sincere and infectiously curious and enthusiastic." (Kirkus)
mostly nonfiction listener
Reason 1: You loved Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Standage's An Edible History of Humanity and everything by Michael Pollan.
Reason 2: You are fascinated by the fact that the majority of the fish we eat is farmed, and that aquaculture is the fastest growing food production system on the planet.
Reason 3: You are torn about eating seafood. You have heard that seafood populations are collapsing, and that many of the fish we enjoy today will not be available to our children due to overfishing. However, you also hear that we need to eat more seafood for our health, and you think it is a good idea to move away from corn fed beef and towards a more sustainable and health diet that contains more fish.
Reason 4: You like learning about the economics of food, the sociology of food producers, and the psychology of food buyers. You have read Paul Greenberg in the NYTimes magazine and other places, and know that his writing is smart and funny.
If you fish, like to eat fish, and/or care about our environment, you will enjoy this book. From the personal story at its beginning to the common sense epilogue, this book is extremely well done (and well narrated), weaving in first-hand research along with entertaining stories. This is the kind of book you will want to listen to for hours and will be disappointed when it concludes.
I haven't read Mark Kurlansky's Cod, but this book is clearly capitalizing on the popularity of that book. Paul Greenberg even interviews Kurlansky and has the rather more famous writer sample a variety of wild, farmed, and organic cod to see if he can taste the difference. I guess I can't blame Greenberg for playing "gotcha" with a more famous author who made his reputation on a book about one fish species, but it seemed like he was trying a little too hard.
This book is another of what the author calls "endangered fish" books. He focuses on four of the most common food fish: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. Talking about the biology and our history of consumption of each, Four Fish is interesting for anyone who is into food science, ecology, or marine biology, but the story is pretty depressing for every species: we're eating them all to extinction. Pretty soon many species of once-abundant fish will be available only as farmed fish, or not even that, and the international community has had very bad luck getting fishermen to stop over-fishing even when it's obvious to everyone what the inevitable outcome will be.
Greenberg tries to end the book on an optimistic note, pointing out that it's not too late, there are conservation, economic, and public policy measures that have been proven to work, and listing the necessary steps that, if taken, could result in all of our favorite fish rebounding and even remaining available as seafood for generations to come. But I cannot say I am as optimistic. The sad story of bluefin tuna seems to be the likely fate of one species after another as we greedily eat anything we can catch.
Not an extremely deep book, but good for a high-level view of our use and overuse of the ocean's resources, and definitely something that will appeal to anyone who ever had an interest in marine biology.
The book itself is solid overall, if a bit dry. Narrator Christopher Lane, however, derailed things every time he read a quoted character. In a comical/amateurish manner, every person had to have some outlandish accent. All non-U.S. characters (and there were several) were spoken with a thick (and often hard-to-understand) accent, while U.S. characters mostly sounded like Brooklynites. It drove me crazy, and gave me a greater appreciation for narrators who can change pitch or tone or whatever to indicate a quoted passage without any distraction at all.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
I recommend you listen to Tom Standage's books if you're into the history of food and drink. This helps paint a better picture by explaining the relation between humans and the aquatic world.
Everyone should read this book! The narrative is engaging, the reading is fantastic, and the knowledge gained is priceless.
This book is an excellent collection of both interesting and educational information and it's a good choice for audible format. The basic reading style is clear and understandable yet the reader has an annoying habit of attempting to duplicate accents of foreign contributors who are quoted in the book. It's doubtful the accents are accurate and they make it very difficult to understand the quote. Four Fish is still a must selection for the fish appreciator.
This is a fascinating book, however the audio version is compromised by the narrator's annoying mannerism of reading direct quotes "in character", including accents. In other words, if a French person is talking the narrator will read with a French accent etc. This seemed pretty condescending and strange to me for a non-fiction book (how does the narrator know what these people sound like?) and was so distracting that I stopped listening.
This book provides a well-researched and well-rounded look at the state of fishing by examining four principal edible fish. This is NOT an environmental screed that says we should all be vegetarians and leave the ocean alone; rather it is a sensible, sober look at the ocean's problems and what the practical solutions are.
The narrator is PERFECT. In some audible books I feel the narrators try a little too hard to do other voices and accents, but this narrator nails it. When you get to the section on Tuna and hear the 9/11 anecdote, you'll fully appreciate this narrator's range.
Possibly, the information was pertinent and impotent. If these warnings are not heeded we will have a food problem.
Cod, it talks about the same story line. Both are great listens.
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