Book 5: Sustainable Santa Has a Book Suggestion for Every Conscientious Eater on Your Holiday List

American Catch


Book 5: American Catch by Paul Greenberg

Santa considers himself fortunate. With much of the Bering Sea and Alaska lying within his foodshed, Santa has ready access to plenty of pollock, Arctic char, wild salmon and other local seafood.

But as Paul Greenberg points out in American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood, Santa is the exception among Americans. Despite controlling more ocean than any other country, the United States imports in excess of 85 percent of its seafood. And at the same time as the country is bringing in all those fish from who-knows-where, it is exporting fully one-third of the fish that come from its waters. Alaska alone produces enough fish to feed the nation. How did this come about? Why don’t Americans give their seafood the respect it deserves? Why, oh why, does the definition of “locavore” stop at the high-tide mark? What’s the catch? The American catch.

Paul, who has to be one of the most amiable narrators taking on serious food issues today, uses this paradox as a stepping off point for a lively exploration of America’s complex relationship with the marine resources at its doorstep, from the oyster beds of the Northeast, to the salmon runs of Alaska. He encounters lots of problems and threats along the way, but ends on a hopeful note, which I might sum up as, “Yes, America, there is a way to have your seafood and eat it too.”

Give this book to anyone who loves to catch fish, dines on seafood, or enjoys the coastal waters of the United States.

Santa has more recommendations in his bag. He’ll be back with another book tomorrow.

American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood, by Paul Greenberg, $ 26.95

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