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Four Fish: A journey from the ocean to your plate Paperback – 29 Jul 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Paperback, 29 Jul 2010
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (29 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846140021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140020
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 700,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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This is a beautifully written, provocative, illuminating investigation into our relationship with the sea. Greenberg builds the book around our use (or rather, misuse) of four iconic fish species: salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. It reads like a novel, but is crammed with facts and figures - For example, we are currently harvesting a staggering 90 million tons of wild fish every year, but if we were to follow the UK governments recommendation and all eat two portions of fish every week this harvest would need to increase by 60 billion pounds.

Of course, fishing at even the current rate is unsustainable, and the result has been the crashing of stocks around the world. For the four species of Greenberg's book the response to demand outstripping supply has been ever more intense exploitation and the development of aquaculture - fish farming. Greenberg unpicks the problems with both approaches. The problem of overfishing is obvious, but fish farming doesn't fare much better. None of the four species under consideration is by nature a good candidate for domestication, and each of them present serious environmental and welfare problems. We are also left with the crazy situation where even salmon, highly selectively bred to be efficient growers, need to be fed three pounds of wild fish in order to produce one pound of salmon flesh for the table.

Greenberg's conclusion urges that fishing for wild fish should be done only by small-scale, highly environmentally aware local fisherman, and that fish farming needs to take a radically different approach to the one that has so far been popular. Rather than taking species with which we are already familiar, and trying to domesticate them, we should instead select species that are better candidates for domestication, and learn to eat them.
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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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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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Half of all fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back overboard DEAD it says on the front page of celebrity chef's Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's campaign website to change European laws governing this industry. After a visit to one of his restaurants last year when I left my email address I was invited to sign up as a supporter last year. Now more that 755,000 people have.

I did so without having to think hard because I had seen his Chicken Out campaign in 2008 and agreed with its objectives. This campaign has changed the way that people shop, Mr Fearnley Whittingstall claims. I believe he is correct and all c-store operators who stock any chicken - or fish - need to be aware of the provenance of the food they sell.

You may disagree. I have visited some great shops where people aspire only to cheap extruded snacks and cheap beer. But as a c-store retailer you need to understand your market positioning: what your shop stands for and what it does not.

If you agree with this then The Fish on Your Plate, a book by Paul Greenberg just published in paperback by Penguin, will provide you with an entertaining and informative read. There are five things you will observe:

The power of supermarkets
The power of industry lobbies
The problems of labelling
The way consumers think
There are only four types of fish!

Mr Greenberg is a journalist who has fished since childhood. He writes well. His book is divided into four chapters on salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. Mankind, he asserts, eat four types of meat: beef, pork, lamb and goat and four types of fowl: chicken, turkey, duck and goose. It is the same with fish.

However, fish are wild food and not domesticated. Farming salmon does not make sense.
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