The Fight for Our Local Seafood
By Paul Greenberg
(Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594204487, 320pp.)
Publication Date: June 26, 2014
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"A fascinating discussion of a multifaceted issue and a passionate call to action" --Kirkus
In American Catch, award-winning author Paul Greenberg takes the same skills that won him acclaim in Four Fish to uncover the tragic unraveling of the nation’s seafood supplytelling the surprising story of why Americans stopped eating from their own waters.
In 2005, the United States imported five billion pounds of seafood, nearly double what we imported twenty years earlier. Bizarrely, during that same period, our seafood exports quadrupled. American Catch examines 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.
In the 1920s, the average New Yorker ate six hundred local oysters a year. Today, the only edible oysters lie outside city limits. Following 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.
Farther south, a different catastrophe threatens another seafood-rich environment. When 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 shrimpcheap, abundant, and a perfect vehicle for the frying and sauces Americans lovehave flooded the American market.
Finally, Greenberg visits Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the biggest wild sockeye salmon run left in the world. A pristine, productive fishery, Bristol Bay is now at great risk: The proposed Pebble Mine project could under¬mine the very spawning grounds that make this great run possible. In his search to discover why this pre¬cious renewable resource isn’t better protected, Green¬berg encounters a shocking truth: the great majority of Alaskan salmon is sent out of the country, much of it to Asia. Sockeye salmon is one of the most nutritionally dense animal proteins on the planet, yet Americans are shipping it abroad.
Despite the challenges, hope abounds. In New York, Greenberg connects 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. With American Catch, Paul Greenberg proposes a way to break the current destructive patterns of consumption and return American catch back to American eaters.
PAUL GREENBERG is the author of the James Beard Awardwinning bestseller Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and a regular contributor to the New York Times. He has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered and has lectured widely on ocean issues at institutions ranging from Google to Yale to the U.S. Senate. He is currently a Pew fellow in Marine Conservation and a fellow with the Blue Ocean Institute.
One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat here is imported and often of lower quality. Why? Author Paul Greenberg says it has to do with American tastes. More at NPR.org
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"This is on the top of my summer reading list A Fast Food Nation for fish.”
“Americans need to eat more American seafood. It’s a point [Greenberg] makes compellingly clear in his new book.”
"Blue Ocean Institute fellow Greenberg (Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, 2010, etc.) offers an optimistic perspective on the connection between preserving our salt marshes and restoring America's offshore seafood production. The author presents three illustrative case studies: the effort to bring oysters back to our Eastern shores, the threat to Alaska's wild salmon industry from mining interests, and the effect of globalization on Gulf Coast shrimp. A fascinating discussion of a multifaceted issue and a passionate call to action."
***PRAISE FOR PAUL GREENBERG'S FOUR FISH***
Sam Sifton, The New York Times Book Review
“[Four Fish] is a necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why.”
Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“The signal quality of Greenberg’s book is its genial and sometimes despairing struggle with contradiction. Not many who argue for our planet’s endangered species also write the thrill of hunting them. Like the fish he once hooked, he plunges away and is reeled back. Four Fish is a serious and searching study. Written with wit and beauty, it is also play.”
“[An] excellent, wide-ranging exploration of humankind’s relationship with fish.”
The Seattle Times
“Greenberg’s saga, and his voice, are irresistible. A book that easily could have slid into cheap ideology or wonkiness instead revels in the tragicomic absurdity of nature, humans, and, of course, human nature. Yet it never shies away from the ugly, complicated truths of our modern world.”