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The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  29 reviews
By the bestselling author of Four Fish and American Catch, an eye-opening investigation of the history, science, and business behind omega-3 fatty acids, the "miracle compound" whose story is intertwined with human health and the future of our planet

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been celebrated by doctors and dieticians as key to a healthy heart and a sharper brain. In the
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Penguin Press (first published July 1st 2018)
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Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
(EDIT: I'm upgrading my rating from 3 stars to 4. Over the past week or so I've talked about this book to 5 or 6 people, which made me realize I might have liked it more than I thought.)

One of my favorite books is Paul Greenberg's Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, and that was one of the reasons I jumped on reading this one. The other is that I have sometimes wondered how worthwhile omega-3 supplements are. (Among all the reading I did for a reefkeeping hobby, I saw the importance of
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Paul Greenberg's latest book is another fascinating and graceful mix of reporting on and thinking about the environment, fisheries, and food policy. This time around, he also addresses medical research and the supplement industry too. There is a lot to this book and it rewards careful and considered reading.

I learned a lot while going through this book - about omega-3 fatty acids, their impact on health and the environment, the difference between omega-3s and omega-6s, and the potential future
Nathan Schmidt
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I received an advanced copy through Goodreads First Reads, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

The misleading title of the book might lead some to believe that the book is a diet book advocating omega-3 fatty acids, that it hardly the case. In fact, Greenburg's book explores the hollow, often-unproven claims of advocates for the diet. Taking a scientific and historical look at dietary fads, from the infamous snake oil cons of the 19th century to the problematic protein diets, he argues that th
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow. In typical Greenberg style, here is another well-researched, well-written book on a most arcane subject. Perhaps more than you ever wanted to know about plankton, algae and menhaden, but written in his relaxed, informative style, it is an exposition of our broken food system.
He writes, "I had felt banished to the sea and seafood--a niche that occupied only a fragment of the average American's consciousness. I had wanted to move beyond the ocean and to explore and report on a much wider wor
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Omega Principle is a brilliant and engaging book that works on many levels: as a rousing environmental manifesto, a moving midlife memoir, and a gripping historical narrative about the shifting tides of geopolitical power.

Greenberg writes fluidly about how we are going to hell in a handbasket - overfishing our oceans and exhausting ourselves - and hoping that we can magically reverse years of unhealthy habits with a daily golden capsule of fish oil, that, by the way, is produced by destroyin
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the trendy field of self-improvement, there are few catch-words as ubiquitous as "Omega-3s." But while most of us have a vague understanding that they are good for us, I am willing to guess that far fewer truly understand what they actually are, where they come from, and exactly how -- and the extent to which -- they benefit our health. In his typically insightful and engaging way, Greenberg answers these questions and much, much more in his newest book: The Omega Principle.

It turns out that
Cate Hagarty
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is changing my life and I haven't even finished it yet. As I consider myself to be both an environmentalist AND an occasional enthusiast for animal protein, I have had a hard time reconciling these facts. Here is a book that speaks to this conundrum and is both realistic, cautiously optimistic about the immediate future and one person's power to make change through small tweaks in individual behavior. The question of how we take care of ourselves and how we take care of our planet are ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
What are omega-3s? Why do we need them? Should we take fish oil?

This book takes you on a trip all around the world and through history, from the ancient Romans to Antarctica to the Mediterranean.

This book is really focused on the ocean and fish. I was hoping to learn more about plant sources of omega-3s, since the animals have to get it from somewhere, but I did enjoy learning about the smaller fish in the ocean and their importance to food chains. I never knew how heavily tiny fishes such as a
Sean Barrett
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Greenberg's magnum opus: Omega Principle is a captivating **MUST READ** that provides an illuminating crystal ball view into the future of human health and sustainable seafood on planet earth. I have studied and applauded the previous works of this NYT bestselling author and was blown away by this book. Here he brilliantly converts the once yawning and dreary subject of omegas into an action-packed adventure story in which he travels the globe diving deeply with omega experts from all walks (or ...more
Andrew Ritchie
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These fatty substances have extensive tendrils that connect many aspects of our food systems and health outcomes. They have many varied relationships with many of our food sources, each with their own dependencies and repercussions. Almost like some kind of... "web."

Although many common food system components have such interconnections, reading this book showed that omega fatty acids are a significant pressure point and that the health of their sources are a good indicator of the health and sta
Gavin Hribar
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"In the beginning we ate wild game, leafy greens, and seafood---a diet that put us in a 1:1 balance of omega-3s and omega-6s. In the next phase we tamed the wild grasses and bred them to produce grain and moved ourselves subtly in the direction of omega-6. In the next and most recent phase we industrialized both grain and meat production and tilted ourselves to a way of eating and farming that is making us and our planet sick. But today we stand on the verge of another revolution---a revolution ...more
Selim Tlili
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Insightful book. Greenberg makes a strong case for tilting our food system to greater emphasis on seafood and less emphasis on land based animals. He discusses both the nutritional benefits and he environmental benefits in a way that makes a lot of sense.
For someone who wants to reduce their environmental impact but isn’t willing to go vegetarian or vegan this seems like a decent middle ground to explore.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This bounces around too many topics. It is almost a stretch to say that fish oil is a central theme. I also do not think fish oil was a good vehicle for what the author tried to accomplish with this book. This is an environmental/sustainability book masquerading as a nutrition book. WRT nutrition, I’m not even sure I understand what the author wanted me to get from it. However, it is interesting and the segmented anecdotes are well written. 3 stars.
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked reading this book. It was very interesting and eye-opening, and the writing flows very nicely. It made me reflect on things and think about the interconnectedness of the human economy and the marine world in ways I didn't quite think of before. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in human health, food, and/or marine science. ...more
The Inquisitive Biologist
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book about fish oil supplements, yes, but more than that, The Omega Principle is a wide-ranging and thoroughly engaging reportage on the health of ourselves, our food system, and our oceans. See my full review at ...more
Don  Kent
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone who hopes to unravel all the hype about Omega 3 suppliments and explore the science behind the nutritional and ecological challenges facing us all. The book is exceptionally well written and researched and begs to be read yet again to extract as much as possible of the author's brilliance. ...more
Nicholas Lariviere
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
this wasn't the book I thought it would be, and was a really nice deep-dive into the fish reduction industry, food supplements, and diet science, all with a classic Greenberg flair. His best work since Four Fish. ...more
Scott Phillips
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating history and insight into our relationship to fish, and fish oils. I will think about it and apply many of the revelations and connections to my life and career in water, waste and energy engineering.
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I like how the author included how the healthiest groups in the world don't usually rely on supplements. They rely on what we evolved to eat, food. The whole book was an interesting take into the world of seafood, especially omega 3s and the promises of improved health. ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Nonsense shaped in a way that is supposed to suggest "I know what I am saying". Fail. ...more
Al Clark
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about fertilizer and the global food system. Easy read, pretty wild story.
Kelly L.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you care about the planet, read this book.
Raul Bowers
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Excellent book clear text. On chain of fat Omega -3, -6, -9, & personal stories you have to read. Discovery to dealer that lead, merchant support for product to longevity & healthier planet.
Geoff Walling
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ok, so Omega 3 isn't really all that and a bag of chips. ...more
Mallory DeVries
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019goals
A little dry, but I think there was a good message hidden under it
Michelle Bizzell
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fish-books, nature
This combined everything I find so interesting about fish into one book and I will definitely be rereading it.
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For someone whose usual pick in a bookshop is fiction, particularly sci-fi and YA, this may seem an unusual choice for a binge-read and a five-star rating. But let me tell you - this is no usual book. Paul Greenberg takes on the molecule at the centre of a multi billion-dollar industry and scientific debate - omega-3, and explains why we're talking about it, what is its actual medical value and how these conversations came about. Needless to say, the subject is associated most with the supplemen ...more
Gracie White
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Paul Greenberg has been my favorite author for several years now, and his books are a large part of the reason I'm currently working towards a master's degree in Marine Resource Management. His books never fail to make me see things I previously believed to fully understand in an entirely new light, and this book was no different. Greenberg has an uncanny ability to make the most seemingly mundane things thrilling, for example, a molecule. A fatty acid, to be exact. At different times, the book ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
i’m a fan of the writing of Paul Greenberg. This is a recommendable book with a somewhat misleading title that is actually about human nutrition with it’s myriad of theoretical debates and the problems with the American diet and food production system. Of the many books I’ve read on the subject, the author does the most efficient job of explaining these issues. I found this book to be an easy read and interesting.

When it comes to examining and suggesting solutions to these food production issue
William Sedlack
rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2018
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Paul Greenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish, American Catch, The Omega Principle and Goodbye Phone, Hello World. A regular contributor to the Times and many other publications, Mr. Greenberg is the winner of a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and the writer-in-residence at the Safina Center. He has been featured on Fresh Air ...more

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