Jordan's Reviews > Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

Four Fish by Paul Greenberg
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's review
Aug 17, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: nutrition-health, history-science
Read in August, 2011 — I own a copy

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 from a 30 year break from his fishing hobby he soon noticed that fish markets had only a few fish to choose from compared to years past when the variety was staggering. His book profiles the “big four” fish that are now widely available for our consumption. These include salmon, tuna, bass and cod.

Did you know for example that Bluefin Tuna which is the most coveted sushi/sashimi dish is near priceless because of scarcity caused by over fishing. A 500 pound blue fin can sell for 300,000 U.S dollars. Did ya know that before the 1970’s fisherman tossed these fish overboard because of their rich fatty meat? Japanese businessman shipping electronics to the U.S began loading their empty plains with Bluefin, buying them for pennies, to avoid wasting gas money on their jets’ return trips to Japan? A bit of marketing and then bluefin became a popular fish. Fish food fads come and go and we all go along for the ride.

Greenberg goes on to profile each fish and explain how they each underwent domestication and, or exploitation. The lengths we went to make special occasion fish everyday fish has been amazing. Technologically we overcame obstacles to feed the masses, but at the same time devastating our wild fish populations. He believes that the food input would be close to the food output when choosing fish to farm. Tilapia and barramundi both require little food and thrive in rough conditions so their future is bright. As popularity contests ebb and flow different fish find their way to our plate. When wild stocks begin to “stop producing” we try to “farm” that variety of fish and have had mixed results both with efficacy and the healthiness of the product.

I found this book very interesting and disturbing at the same time. We spend so much effort to eat the right things yet very little in understanding where our food comes from, or the effect we are having on it as a species by eating it. After reading this book I’ve decided that protein, especially fish, is just a luxury that should be treated as such. Cave man had little of it and modern man has been able to afford little himself. We owe it to our animal friends; for our health, pocketbook, and the continual supply of special occasion protein out there in nature, to eat less and learn more.

He ends his book with advice for the fishing industry that may lead to logical choices of what fish to fish and how to keep power in the hands of fisherman who won’t destroy the very delicate little water animals that keep them employed. If big business is left to make these choices then wild fish will be quickly gone and “farmed” processed mutant fish will fill our plates.
You are what you eat and you are also responsible for the killing of what you eat.
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