Why are we importing our own fish? That’s the question posed by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling “Four Fish,” in a recent New York Times Op-Ed. The query also served to underscore an issue that many people were totally unaware of.
The U.S. controls more fishable ocean than any other nation, Greenberg writes, and yet most of what we eat — a full 86 percent — is imported. Meanwhile, a third of our own catch is shipped out to other countries. In many cases, we’re exchanging high-quality, sustainable wild fish for farmed Asian alternatives. Even more bizarrely, we send some fish, like pollock and salmon, halfway around the world only to have it processed in Asia and then shipped right back to us.
It’s easy to throw your hands up in exasperation at the Rube Goldberg-esque complexities of a globalized marketplace; the next step is to seriously consider the larger implications of a system run amok, and to make a convincing case for simplification and reform. ”American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood” is Greenberg’s attempt to do all of the above. By charting the evolution of the seafood chain as it’s now experienced and detailing the long list of what we’ve lost in the process, his new book calls for a food movement that would boost the profile of protein source that’s long played second fiddle to land-raised meat in the American diet, and return our gazes to the fish swimming closer to our own shores.
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