Taras Grescoe, Bottomfeeder

I finished Taras Grescoe's book Bottomfeeder while on holidays, and immediately gave it away. Those of you who know me personally (rather than virtually) will know what this means: that I think it's an important book that other people really do need to read -- now, dammit, now! Thus it is with Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.

Now that I've given it away, of course, I'm going to have to buy it again. There's a tremendous amount of information in the book, and it's written very well, to boot, so I think it's essential reading for two separate reasons. If I ever put together the course proposal I've been pondering on "Environmental Activism and Literature," this book might well go on the list. I'm not sure how well the book will last, as its data is very current, but frankly that's just another reason to buy the book now, dammit, now.

Let me put it this way: If you eat seafood AT ALL, and you've ever had a SINGLE thought about sustainability ("what does 'dolphin-friendly tuna' mean?" or "I wonder where this shrimp came from" or "what's the difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon?"), you're defenseless against the seafood industry until you've read Bottomfeeder.

Fraud rates are very high, both at retail outlets and restaurants; that tasty scallop might be a chunk punched out of a skate wing, and that slice of bluefin tuna might be horsemeat. A High-Liner salmon fillet sold in San Diego will have travelled 22,000 kilometres by the time it hits a store freezer (farmed in Chile; filleted in China; boxed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; trucked to California). Frozen shrimp is often pink because it was soaked in known carcinogenic substances before it was frozen. A single meal of bluefin tuna will give you 350% of your weekly toxic dose of mercury.

As a start, go and read Grescoe's diverse op-ed pieces archived on his website, published all over the place. You'll be glad you did.


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