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Four Fish: A journey from the ocean to your plate [Paperback]

Paul Greenberg
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 July 2010
This book is available in another title with the same text - The Fish on Your Plate: Why We Eat What We Eat from the Sea (ISBN 9780141031071)

Whether it’s wild or farmed, fresh or tinned, in batter or a bento box, we’re eating more fish than ever before. But what’s the story behind the fish on your plate?

Award-winning writer and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey through the oceans, telling the stories of the fish we eat the most: salmon, cod, bass and tuna. He visits Norwegian mega farms that use genetic techniques once pioneered on sheep to grow 500,000 tons of salmon a year. He travels to Alaska to see the only Fair Trade certified fishing company in the world. He investigates the pollutants that cause mercury build-up in seafood; discovers how Mediterranean sea bass went global; meets a Polish émigré on the Shetland Islands who may have saved the cod; and gets sea-sick chasing blue fin tuna off Hawaii.

Throughout, Greenberg poses the questions many of us ask when confronted with a seafood menu or a supermarket shelf: which fish can I eat without worrying? What does overfishing mean? What's the difference between wild, farmed and organic? Should humans domesticate fish as we have animals – or stop eating from the sea altogether?

Fish, Greenberg shows, are the last truly wild food we eat - for now. By understanding fully how it gets to our dinner table, we can start to enjoy fish in a way that's healthy for us - and good for the world that exists off our coasts.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (29 July 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846140021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140020
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


Finally we have learned that food is best when produced on a small scale in accordance with the rhythms of our planet ... Warm and witty, Four Fish takes this concept to the ocean. Seafood deserves the same kind of respect and political awareness as food from the land. Maybe more (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse )

We are lucky to have the exceptional journalist and writer, Paul Greenberg turn his attention to one of the greatest threats to our food supply, the depletion of the world's fisheries ... Greenberg will change the way you think about the fish you eat (Amanda Hesser, Food Columnist New York Times )

If you've ever ordered salmon, if you've ever slurped a bowl of chowder, if you've ever sat down for sushi, Paul Greenberg's friendly and thoughtful book will lure you in, surprise you, probably shock you, and certainly make you think ... Read this book (Trevor Corson, Bestselling Author Of The Secret Life Of Lobsters And The Story Of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga Of Raw Fish And Rice )

Four Fish is not only the best analysis I've seen of the current state of both wild and farmed fish - it's a terrific read (Mark Bittman, Author Of How To Cook Everything And Food Matters )

Important and stimulating ... a necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why (New York Times Book Review )

Greenberg writes with tremendous knowledge and passion to tell the engrossing story of the impact of history, geography and politics on our seafood, and offers a clear-eyed manifesto for the future of fish (FT )

Paul Greenberg observes ... we are at a significant moment (Economist )

Accessible and enlightening ... It's not Greenberg's way to preach; he's happier letting the facts speak for themselves (Observer )

Required reading for anyone who eats seafood ...Greenberg is an unfailingly entertaining writer, and his book arms you with the information you need to make intelligent choices when you are confronted by the ... offerings at the fish counter (Atlantic )

About the Author

Paul Greenberg has been fishing since childhood, and writing for The New York Times, National Geographic and GQ since adulthood. In 2005, his New York Times Magazine article on Chilean Sea Bass received the International Association of Culinary Professionals' award for excellence in food journalism. Greenberg has also received both a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a Food and Society Policy Fellowship.

Greenberg lives in Manhattan, New York, speaks Russian and French, and most recently went fishing off the Connecticut coast with his daughter this summer.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, important and very readable book 28 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be essential reading. It has had very little press coverage since it's publication (at least in the U.K.) and I only found out about it after Ben Macintyre's editorial on Tuna fishing during which he recommended it.

The subject matter is the overfishing of Salmon, Cod, Seabass and Tuna and the history of how these four fish became the frontline of humanity's marine dietry requirements. But make no mistake - this isn't purely an academic look at declining stocks. Nor is it a hysterical propaganda advocating the complete stop on all commercial fishing. Paul Greenberg's book is accessible to everyone and is a very measured, facsinating and important read. He is obviously a lover of the sea and all that is in it but - having spend a number of years fishing himself - he has a balanced and realistic view on the problem of the increase in the human population and it's effect on fish stocks. He looks at the fish farming industries and their effect not just from a stock point of view but also an ecological one. He debates differing ideas on prolonging the stock of these fish (and others) and has his own very valid thoughts on our future role as herders of fish stocks rather than blindly plundering what is there.

The chapter on bluefin Tuna is chilling - but then it should be. But even here Greenberg looks at what we can do to assist stocks and alternative sustainable solutions rather than suggesting an unrealistic ban on all tuna fishing.

Lively, witty, entertaining, sometimes sad but with an infective positive outlook from the planet's last wild food source - this is a great book and definitely worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 4 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining and superbly well written investigation into the important issue of the management and preservation of wild fish stocks and the effects of the rapid growth of aquaculture/fish farming .

Paul Greenberg is a gifted writer who's enormous passion for his subject is matched by his understanding of the science, politics and economics of the issues.

Consumer choice is a powerful force that drives the economics of fishing practices and aquaculture. This book will inform the choices you make when you buy fish and, in doing that, will make a difference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to be on all school syllabus 25 Aug 2010
A wonderful book that makes a difficult subject very accessible, personal and shows ways forward within the present ecological debates, excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars personal, friendly, and very far sighted 6 Feb 2014
I love the way this guy talks. His childhood stories flow seamlessly into the story of all humanity in relation to sea creatures. The book's structure builds both forward in time and outward into ever-deeper water. I'd seen some deeply disturbing accounts about our systematic destruction of the sea. But this was a far more conversationally problem-solving approach, considering the merits of various practical experiments to manage fish better. I was fascinated to learn of bright spots, where people make some promising possibilities happen.

A lot of the book concerns learning what works, and what doesn't in sustainably farming fish. Greenberg shows, for example, that while farming of tra or tilapia shows enormous potential, attempts to farm carnivorous cod, tuna and probably even salmon, are moderately to totally counterproductive. In talking to the people actually trying these things, Greenberg has a learning adventure that's a pleasure to read.
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