The Beacon: PaulGreenberg's blog

Fish: the Next Local Food

This is the last in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

A sanitized version of an old Yiddish proverb advises: "don't excrete where you eat." An incredibly obvious and comprehensible point. And yet, we Americans have been doing pretty much exactly the opposite for much of our history. 

Millions of tons of human sewage, not to mention excretion, from various shore-based factories and power plants and now the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, have fouled our local waterways and made much of the seafood that is at our coastal doorsteps either rare or inedible.

Combine that with agricultural runoff and the habitat destruction caused by the dredging of harbors and you have an obvious result: Americans now get around 80% of their seafood from abroad and the seafood that is caught within our borders is often brought to us from distant offshore fishing grounds or from still relatively untainted places like Alaska.  

Which is why I feel strongly that the next "local food" movement should be one of reclaiming local seafood and bringing regional fish back onto the menus of our coastal cities. 


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Sustainably Heckled in Chicago

This is the third in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

One of the more enjoyable things I've done during the Four Fish book tour is to host sustainable seafood dinners at some of America's better restaurants. I've done this at Fork in Philadelphia, Savoy in New York City, Ammo in Los Angeles and most recently at North Pond in Chicago (Blue Hill at Stone Barnes and Lumiere in Boston are upcoming).  

At each dinner the chef and I reviewed the principles of eating sustainably from the ocean and then put together a four-course menu. Bruce Sherman at Chicago's North Pond, for example, did a dinner with an oyster/clam/gulf shrimp/spot prawn starter, a seared mackerel intermediate and then main courses of a farmed arctic char and a wild local lake whitefish.  

Each course represented a different potential solution: clams, oysters, shrimp and prawns are low trophic level feeders and have relatively small energy demands from the planet. The clams and oysters can be farmed with pretty much no damage to the environment and oyster beds are useful bottom habitat for many wild fish. The mackerel is lower on the food chain and quicker to reproduce than say, bluefin tuna, and still has plenty of omega threes.  <--break->


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A Stimulus Package for the Oceans: Deconstruction

This is the second in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing James Prosek's excellent Eels for the New York Times Book Review.  An endlessly interesting topic but most relevant for today's oceanic fisheries because of the unseen (and largely fixable) problem eels represent: the useless damming of small rivers around the country and around the world. 

Rivers are key to oceans: they allow for energy transfer between freshwater ecosystems and saltwater, and the primary way they do that is through "diadromous" i.e. sea run fish like salmon, herring, shad, and yes, eels.


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Tall People, Big Mines and the Man Who Would Stop a Salmon Holocaust

Bristol Bay, Alaska. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

This is the first in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

A few times in my life I have walked into a party and found myself in a crowd where I'm about as tall as the shortest woman in the room.

As a man who is perched safely above the national average for male height, I have come to take these anomalous parties not as sleights to my standing in the world, but rather as venues where I ought to pay careful attention. For, as so many studies have found, extreme height is linked to extreme wealth, power and influence. Find yourself in a room with very, very tall people, and it's likely some very important decisions could be made. 

And so it was this past Monday night, when Bob Gillam hosted an event for some of New York's tallest hoping to raise consciousness (and, yes, money) to stop "Pebble Mine" the biggest, most egregious onslaught against wild fish we have seen in the last quarter century. For those not aware of it, Pebble Mine is a proposed copper and gold mine that a group called "Anglo American" has put together at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. 


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