Bottomfeeder

Taras Grescoe

A few years ago I abandoned my vegetarianism and started adding fish to my diet. Mostly I felt like I needed variety in my protein sources, but also there are a lot of nutritional benefits to eating fish. I’ve looked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Guide many times, but have always found it difficult to consistently remember what to avoid. Reading the stories behind key “avoid” fishes (as well as a few fish that are good eat) should help me navigate the fish world a little easier.

The core of Grescoe’s international survey of fish is that we have overfished the larger predators (like tuna and cod) and the only way to help the fish come back is to stop eating them and go instead for fish lower on the food chain. But not necessarily any fish.

After reading this book, I will sadly avoid ever eating shrimp, as most of it is farmed in third-world countries in a manner that severely impacts the environment and adjacent farmland as well as being treated with chemicals and antibiotics. I will also stop eating mysterious salmon, as it is probably farmed and has many of the same problems (the descriptions of sea lice alone should hammer that in). I also don’t feel too bad that I never ate fish and chips while in the UK, as they continue to procure cod by any means necessary, despite the collapse of the Atlantic cod, which experts think have reached an irreversible point where cod will never return to the places it was overfished.

In recent years, an industry has formed around more sustainable land meats. Of course, the less sustainable industry still exists alongside it. But in the case of fish, not only do we need to advocate for a sustainable fish industry, but the plan must include a complete dismantling of the current system. Otherwise we may see a collapse of all world fisheries by as early as 2048.

Definitely a must-read for fish eaters.