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Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,696 Ratings  ·  456 Reviews
"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."
Writer 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 rev
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published June 28th 2010)
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Apr 19, 2012 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My opinion of this book can be encapsulated by an actual conversation I had on the train after putting the book away before disembarking:

Nice stranger lady: "Were you just reading the fish book by Greenberg?"
Me: "Why yes, I was."
NSL: "Isn't it an amazing book?"
Me: "You know, it really is. I'm really enjoying it, it's very good."
NSL: "I also enjoyed it very much."
Me: "Know what I find most interesting about it?"
NSL: "What's that?"
Me: "It's about the most boring topic in the world, yet I'm enthral
Who would have guessed after going into such depth about the state of the fish we eat that the author would conclude by revealing that he’s unsettled by people continually asking him which fish they should eat. I understand that he considers global fishing and environmental policy changes to be primary and necessary and that if one consumer doesn’t eat tuna, another will so we’re shouldn’t delude ourselves that we’re saving fish solely by our consumer choices. Plus, he promotes shifting our mind ...more
Sep 19, 2010 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is essentially a policy book about how to sustainably manage wild fish and meet rising demand will require a mix of government controls on fishing and on carefully regulated aquaculture.

Some fish make less sense than others for aquaculture, and Greenberg introduces a number of fish that seem well-suited for aquaculture, due to their low dependency on fish feed. Some fish, like salmon, require a diet of fish meal that makes raising them a net loss on sea life. Others are vegetarian or, at l
May 06, 2012 Celina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read many current-affairs polemics--I tend to think you can learn all you need to know about these books from an interview with the author--but Four Fish is right at the top of its category. Paul Greenberg, a lifelong fisherman, is also quite a writer. That makes his status update on fish as easy to read as it is informative.

Without spoiling anything, most of the fish we eat are being caught way beyond the rate of replacement. Legal limits on fishing work if they're based on science, an
Aug 09, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a story of unintended consequences. Farmed Fish is a big idea response to pressures on the wild fish stock in the commercial fisheries. It holds promise, but has primarily worsened the circumstances of the wild stock while degrading the fish we eat. Sadly, most fish farming is based on false logic, erroneous assumptions, and a green ideology that uses simplistic, and often untrue, stories to stir emotional reactions and garner political power. Two axioms should be held sacrosanct in this an ...more
Dec 09, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seafood lovers, marine biologists
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 auth
Oct 12, 2011 Dayna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I start? This book single-handedly knocked the ignorance right out of me, not the part that highlighted human greed, but the part that never quite understood what "farmed" fish meant, the extent to which we have manipulated/destroyed their breeding environment and overturned their own biological makeup sometimes for the sake of profit, other times for the very real necessity of eradicating hunger, nor that it had been hypocritical of me to relinquish red "meat" while believing that turn ...more
Dana Stabenow
Worth reading alone for the lyrical evocation of the author's childhood years in his introduction, as in

Fishing was the one constant during these years. Sensing in it a masculine, character-building quality my mother arranged it so that the cottages we rented always had access to streams and lakes or abutted other properties we could trespass upon that had such resources. She trusted my instincts for spotting fishy water and used me as a kind of diving rod before signing a lease. And for most of
Dec 07, 2013 Mag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is written by a journalist who writes predominantly for the New York Times and focuses on fish, aquaculture and the future of the oceans. The book seems to be a fairly balanced report that concentrates on the state and future of the four fish: salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. Why these ones, and why four? Well, there are apparently four mammals that humanity chose to domesticate: cows, sheep, goats and pigs, and four birds: chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys, so following that pattern an ...more

Do you ever wonder where that fish on your plate comes from, or how many of its brothers and sisters are still around? Do you wonder why there are only a couple of fish that are available to order at restaurants or buy at the grocery store? Paul Greenberg fished as a child does first in local ponds and streams near his home. As he grew older he bought a boat and began fishing in lakes and then in bays and coastal areas. As an adult he chartered boats and the ocean became his pond. Upon returning
Jan 15, 2011 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
Paul Greenberg writes about four fish: salmon, tuna, bass, and cod. He also includes stories about other fish and marine life. The subtitle says it all: "The Future of the Last Wild Food." And the future is not good. So what can I do about it? I mean, I only want to live the rest of my life trying to do the right thing. Why is that so hard? In this case, it really is tricky. Small steps are not making enough of a difference right now.

For one thing, I will never eat bluefin tuna. For another, I w
Isaac Yuen
Jan 23, 2016 Isaac Yuen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Four Fish provided a very good overview of the state of wild fisheries and fish farms through the eyes of someone who genuinely cares about fish and fishing. After reading Bottomfeeder, I was wary that it may cover a lot of similar terrain, but this actually provided an interesting and thought-provoking perspective about how people view fish. There were some really intriguing insights here. For example, salmon was perceived to be a luxury item, brought down to the masses. Cod was perceived to be ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Oct 11, 2010 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nov-dec-2010
Many of the critics called upon to review Paul Greenberg's Four Fish are themselves environmental writers or experts of some kind. It is a measure of the book's quality that even those who significantly disagreed with Greenberg endorsed Four Fish as one of the best primers for readers who want to learn how the seafood they eat relates to the future of the ocean. Their support may result from Greenberg's pragmatic solutions for improving aquaculture and avoidance of ideological confrontation. But ...more
Dec 20, 2014 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I will never look at the fish at the seafood counter the same way again. And now I understand why responsible fish mongers in my (admittedly Midwest, far from the coasts) small city do not have a particularly wide selection and why the fish are so pricey (OK, I'm sure part of this is the fuel cost to ship the fish to the hinterland).

Greenberg writes so well - this is the BEST form of in depth journalism: Smart, well researched, very interesting writing, accessible, detailed, entertaining. He exp
Jul 27, 2015 Kendall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well great. Eating Animals made me feel guilty about eating meat, and now Four Fish is making me question my seafood consumption. Greenberg makes wonderful and articulate points how the next frontier of fishing should be selecting fish to farm that do well in captivity, rather than trying to force wild fish that we happen to already like into captive breeding situations. Fortunately there can and will be new trends (bluefin tuna, for example, became a global phenomenon largely due to a chain of ...more
Apr 14, 2015 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of interesting book about the transition taking place from commercial fishing to farm raising fish for the markets of the world. The author is not a scientist, but a writer who liked fishing as a boy, which explains his interest in the subject. And of course, writers have to write. I was surprised to learn that the only real commercial fishing that still remains today is for tiny fish to be processed into fish meal to be fed to animals or farm fish, not for humans.
The author laments the en
Aug 23, 2010 Nishant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greenberg agrues, rather convincingly, that 4 fish that we have (nearly) fished to extinction -- Salmon, Cod, Bass, and Tuna -- should essentially be taken off our menus. Also, they should be re-classified as "wild fish", and not farmed. Alternatives--that in some cases already exist--should instead be farmed, and used for human consumption. Furthermore, these four "wild" fish should not longer be fished by giant industrial trawlers, but by artisinal fishermen, who understand the ecology of the ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Irwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of us, no doubt, have long suspected that the end is near as far as the most desirable wild fisheries are concerned. Many of the world's most sought-after fish -- including cod, tuna, sea bass and salmon -- have all disappeared from the wild to some extent, and we will soon be able to eat only frankenstein fish raised on farms that are saturated with antibiotics, fish excrement, industrial chemicals and other pollutants. This fascinating book gives us a glimpse backward to a time when the s ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Manuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds us in a matter-of-fact way that we are eating more fish than the Earth can support and that there are no easy answers to that problem. It's refreshing to see an environmental work that plainly lays out the situation and offers some solutions rather than beats you over the head with alarmist statistics and leaves you feeling despair and hopelessness.

It cleared up a lot of questions for me, such as, what does 'sustainable' really mean? Who sets the 'correct' level of sustainabili
Apr 27, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sport fisherman examines the fate of the world’s last wild food.

Four Fish: The Future of the last Wild Food by Paul Greenburg examines the condition of the Earth’s fisheries by focusing on four fish: salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. Any book that addresses natural resources and humanity’s treatment of them has high potential to be very depressing. Greenburg however, outlines several options that combine strategies for wild-catch commercial fishing, aquaculture, and preservation that combined, m
Oct 12, 2010 Angel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: microhistory readers, those interested in fish and seafood
The book is interesting, but it can get a bit slow in some spots. This is a look at four fish that we eat, getting a little bit of history about each fish and a look at their current status and condition. Overall, the basic conclusion is that these fish are pretty much on the way out in terms of their numbers in the oceans and rivers. Tuna is particularly in danger of being lost, and the sad thing is, even if some of us chose not to eat these fish, someone else will be happy to pick up the slack ...more
Sep 19, 2010 Schuyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the best books that I have read in my adult life! I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in the subject.

The author does a phenomenal job of sharing information through his various adventures and stories. Not only do you feel like you are learning about fish but you also feel as if you're building a relationship with the author. You learn about fish through his life.

The best part of the book to me is that the author does not support one side of the argument while b
Gary Brecht
As a fisherman I found this book somewhat unsettling; and I suppose that’s what the author intended. He not only points at the smoke to yell, “Fire,” but he also proposes some solutions to the depletion of the last stocks of wild food available to mankind.

Greenberg’s descriptive prose engages the reader while at the same time instructing. We learn about the history of domesticating fish, the selection process practiced by fish farm entrepreneurs, the status of a variety of fish species. All thi
Dec 14, 2010 Peterb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Paul Greenberg charts the exploitation and decline of four fish - wild salmon, European sea bass, cod, and bluefin tuna - in this thoroughly depressing work. Much of the book is spent channelling representatives from various commercial fishing operations, or alternatively from environmental groups. Some attention is paid to the question "so, if we shouldn't eat these fish, what should we eat?". (Spoiler: Greenberg says barramundi, tilapia, and "kona kampachi", a trade name for almaco jack)

The bo
Uneven book on fishing in the context of "four" fishes - salmon, bass, cod and tuna. I did learn a lot, especially about fish farming - I didn't realize how far this had come - especially sea bass. The idea of finding fish that already existed in the right form and trying to sell those made a lot of sense to me. And it was interesting to see the references to other books I had already read - especially Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, f ...more
Aug 06, 2010 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: omnivores, pesco-vegetarians, fisherfolk, and wildlife nuts
Clear-eyed reporting on the state of the fisheries (pre-BP-spill). Greenberg is a long-time fisherman, passionate about fish and well-informed as to their history and future. Such as it is for species such as the bluefin tuna. I learned so much about fish farming in this book that I forgive Greenberg for making me cry over the stupidity and cupidity of humanity.

Highly recommended if you are a wildlife fan or if you eat fish. The short answer is- there's little to nothing that can be achieved by
Dec 12, 2015 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. Fascinating look at this unsustainable industry.
Apr 01, 2016 Camilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Greenberg is a lifelong fisherman and talented writer. And in Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food he provides the reader an entertaining and informative natural history and social commentary on the state of commercial fishing, aquaculture, and fisheries management around the world.

His book focuses on four fish: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. He uses those species as jumping off points for further exploration.

In the section on salmon, Greenberg visits the Yupiks on the Yukon River
This book tells the story of four fish that have entered the global market as food: Salmon, Sea Bass, Cod, and Tuna. The chapters include a bit of memoir from the author's life and contain a certain self-consciousness about the popularity of food books focused on the commodity chain. Greenberg is interested in the ways the global market economy, especially in combination with particular entrepreneurial figures, shapes the the fish we eat and determines whether they are farmed and wild. The argum ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty interesting book. It's surprising how little we really consider the industry of fish and how that industry has been framed over time. Even back when I still ate fish, it's not something I really gave a lot of thought to -- you just assume the fish comes out of the ocean somewhere, and all this intriguing backstory (and predictions for the future) are lost to the average consumer.

I appreciated that the framework for the book is to find honest solutions to the problems at hand rather than
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Paul Greenberg (born 1967) is an American author and essayist. Since 2005 Greenberg has written regularly for the New York Times in the Magazine, Book Review and Opinion sections, focusing on fish, aquaculture and the future of the ocean.

His book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, was published in 2010 by Penguin Press on July 15, and has entered the New York Times Best Selling Hard Cov
More about Paul Greenberg...

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“Humans seem to have an innate drive to master other creatures.” 8 likes
“It would be wonderful if all the salmon we eat could be wild. But as one marine ecologist said to me recently, to continue to eat large wild fish at the rate we've been eating them we would need "four or five" oceans to support the crrent human population.” 6 likes
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