Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” as Want to Read:
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,916 Ratings  ·  530 Reviews
Our relationship with the ocean is undergoing a profound transformation. Whereas just three decades ago nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild, rampant overfishing combined with an unprecedented bio-tech revolution has 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; the ...more
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published July 15th 2010 by Penguin Press (first published June 28th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Four Fish, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Four Fish

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very personal journey by Greenberg helps clarify many of the issues faced by those who want to continue to source their protein in our planet's oceans.

I liked his approach and my book group found plenty to discuss from his personal descriptions.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2012 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
Nov 15, 2011 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
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Isaac Yuen
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it

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 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dana Stabenow
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Bookmarks Magazine
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jada Tullos
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great book! Engaging, diverse, and surprisingly full of factual information. A must-read for, well, everyone, I think. Everyone who eats food, that is. :)
You'll come away well-versed in the most pressing issues facing our oceans and our seafood, but you won't feel like you had to suffer to gain that knowledge-Greenberg is a great story teller.
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology, nonfiction
Charming and informative book about humankind's relationship with its last wild food, and how to preserve it for future generations.
Susan Rainwater
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Open your cooking magazine, and you will find a recommendation to eat fish twice a week. If we actually followed those recommendations using wild-caught fish, we would fish the oceans into extinction in about a decade.

So what is the future of fish as food? That’s the subject of this fascinating book.

Four Fish is in many respects a companion book to Mark Kurlansky’s Cod. It’s about (no surprise) the four most common food fish — salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna — in the world diet.

Greenburg is pu
Peggy Bourn
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
A stunning description of what the human species has done to several species of wild fish.
นรินทร์ โอฬารกิจอนันต์
Good but need to cut unnecessary info (like the author travel details) to save the readers time
Travis Beckman
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Greenberg perfectly captures the stages a once young and naive fisherman goes through in realizing the waters they grew up fishing will not remain so if we do not make the transition from being purely harvesters to stewards. I know this because I myself have gone through the same troubling realization. Though I’ve come a long way from the days where I begged my Dad to keep every fish we caught, there is still so much work to do in order to, as Greenberg states is necessary, change humanity’s vie ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Vishal Verma
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Guide to Sustainable Fishing and Our Past Mistakes

Part memoir and part scientific dwelling, Four fish begins with author Paul Greenberg as a fisherman at the young age of 13. The young fisherman had an eye for Connecticut’s abundant largemouth bass. However, following the intense winter of 1978, although not knowing if it was necessarily the sub-zero temperatures or the many other factors from copper sulphate dumping to illegal fishing, not a single bass was reeled thereafter. Home no longer h
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is important. We need to educate more people on sustainable seafood if we want to continue enjoying it. Although this book could have included more science and less fishing escapades, the author did make it clear that he understands where a lot of Americans are at; torn between conservation and delicious seafood that restaurants and markets tell us are the best.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While watching the inspiring eco-documentary “Damnation” on Netflix recently I learned some surprising facts about the ability of salmon populations to rebound from near collapse when dams are removed from rivers, something that is happening ever more often across America. Although I’ve never caught a fish in my life, I’m interested in learning more about this rapidly disappearing food source that is paradoxically and maybe tragically increasing in popularity every year. Once I realized that I k ...more
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
  • Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
  • The Unnatural History of the Sea
  • The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea
  • The Empty Ocean
  • The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean
  • Song for the Blue Ocean
  • Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
  • Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
  • The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
  • Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish
  • The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell
  • Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
  • A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply
  • The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet
  • The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One
  • The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Obsession, Commerce, and Adventure
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
“Humans seem to have an innate drive to master other creatures.” 9 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.” 7 likes
More quotes…