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American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood Hardcover – June 26, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Wall Street Journal
This is Mr. Greenberg's ultimate goal--to get us to eat the seafood from our nation's bounty. He points to the remarkable fact that, "while 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to foreigners." In addition, he points out, "Americans now harvest our best, most nutritious fish in our best-managed Alaskan fisheries and send those fish over to Asia. In exchange, we are importing fish farmed in Asia, with little of the brain-building compounds fish eaters are seeking when they eat fish."

The New Yorker
“Greenberg, who laughs easily and resembles Paul Giamatti’s distant cousin, is the author of American Catch, which explores the fishy problem of why Americans have all but stopped eating seafood from their own waters. Here’s the uniquely American catch: ninety-one per cent of the seafood we eat comes from abroad and much of it is farmed, while one-third of what we catch is exported, and much of that is wild... Greenberg’s breezy, engaging style weaves history, politics, environmental policy, and marine biology through its three chapters.”

The Washington Post:
"Americans need to eat more American seafood. It’s a point [Greenberg] makes compellingly clear in his new book, American Catch: The Fight for our Local Seafood...Greenberg had at least one convert: me.”

The Wall Street Journal:
“Paul Greenberg so desires to revive the New York City oyster that he did the unthinkable: He ate a New York City oyster... This is Mr. Greenberg’s ultimate goal—to get us to eat the seafood from our nation’s bounty.”

Jane Brody, New York Times
“There is nothing inherently wrong with farmed seafood, says Paul Greenberg, the author of two excellent books on seafood, Four Fish:, The Future of the Last Wild Food and, just published, American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood. Mr. Greenberg describes several efforts to produce and market farmed seafood in an environmentally sound manner. Governments like ours would be wise to divert some of the subsidies that sustain animal husbandry on land to the underwriting of sound fish-farming practices.”

The Los Angeles Times
“If this makes it sound like American Catch is another of those dry, haranguing issue-driven books that you read mostly out of obligation, you needn’t worry. While Greenberg has a firm grasp of the facts, he also has a storyteller’s knack for framing them in an entertaining way.”

The Guardian (UK)
“A wonderful new book”

Tom Colicchio:
"This is on the top of my summer reading list. A Fast Food Nation for fish.”

Seattle Times
The salmon run may have found its own passionate champion in Greenberg, who has spent years covering the topic. Bristol Bay salmon is featured along with New York oysters and Gulf Coast shrimp in Greenberg’s new book, American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood... Greenberg talks about the peculiar logic that’s caused our local seafood system to unravel, and what’s at stake if we don’t reel it back in.”

The Boston Globe
Greenberg, a longtime commentator on aquaculture and the oceans, again blends reportage, history, and advocacy, organizing one chapter each around three species... Greenberg describes a wondrous moment — in the Bronx, of all places; while in search of reintroduced specimen he stumbles on “a real live, naturally spawned New York City oyster . . . [a] brave sentry from a lost kingdom.” Greenberg is at his best describing such epiphanies — he also writes beautifully about fishing for salmon in Alaska, which offers up similar reveries.”

Kirkus Reviews:
"An optimistic perspective... A fascinating discussion of a multifaceted issue and a passionate call to action."


Sam Sifton, The New York Times Book Review
“[Four Fish] is a necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why.”

Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“The signal quality of Greenberg’s book is its genial and sometimes despairing struggle with contradiction. Not many who argue for our planet’s endangered species also write the thrill of hunting them. Like the fish he once hooked, he plunges away and is reeled back. Four Fish is a serious and searching study. Written with wit and beauty, it is also play.”

“[An] excellent, wide-ranging exploration of humankind’s relationship with fish.”

The Seattle Times
“Greenberg’s saga, and his voice, are irresistible. A book that easily could have slid into cheap ideology or wonkiness instead revels in the tragicomic absurdity of nature, humans, and, of course, human nature. Yet it never shies away from the ugly, complicated truths of our modern world.”

About the Author

Paul Greenberg is the author of the James Beard Award-winning bestseller Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and a regular contributor to the New York Times. He has been featured on NPR's Fresh Air and All Things Considered and has lectured widely on ocean issues at institutions ranging from Google to Yale to the U.S. Senate. He is currently a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and a fellow with the Blue Ocean Institute.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1St Edition edition (June 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204487
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By sneaky-sneaky VINE VOICE on June 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Paul Greenberg has apparently found his voice as an ichthylogical advocate, and has followed up his excellent 'Four Fish' with another book that involves three. The strength of 'American Catch' is its locovore leitmotif, three species that represent many of the ills that have befallen our food supply, food chain, ecosystems, eating habits, and eating habitats.
If we managed to reintroduce edible oysters to the New York City area, we could achieve several things, firstly, cleaner water, as these ancient bivalves filter fifty gallons a day each, and oystertectured shallows would mitigate both storm surges and rising seas. These calciferous reefs in turn harbor and shelter other species, so oysters are actually a keystone species, much like returning wolves to Yellowstone Park restored struggling trees by eating the deer that were eating the seedlings.
Tied into the coastal fate of oysters are salty tidal marshes that spawn a host of tasty piscines, and the most popular of all by weight, shrimp. We could grow all the shrimp we want here, but instead farm it out to Asia and China. The air in China is bad, the water is atrocious, and yet here we are eating shrimp, tilapia and catfish farmed there.
Finally, Mr. Greenberg covers Bristol Bay in Alaska, home to the last great salmon run, and the competing interests of mining corporations who promise to 'get it right this time.' In all a good book, and with some solutions presented, it's not all doom and gloom, we can educate consumers, prod government, and protect what's left.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It used to be that the bays and oceans of much of the country were teaming with fish and shell fish and constituted a major portion of the protein in the diet of average Americans. In New York, oysters were plentiful and cheap, while in New Orleans, shrimp and numerous other species of fish were easy to obtain and consume, however those days are about over. Between polluting our waters and sending what fish we have that is left overseas, we are becoming an importer of low quality fish….a sort of big box type fish.

The author looks at three species and starts with the oysters that once were very plentiful in New York Harbor, but which have all but vanished due to pollution and mismanagement of the harbor. Even if the beds could be reestablished, it is doubtful that they would be edible for a long time. But, if they could be replaced in the bay, they would help prevent tide surges in storms, help filter that water that is polluted and make for a better environment.

The second species the author looked at were shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the New Orleans area. Again, at one time, these fish were tasty, if a bit expensive and extremely plentiful. Now, the catches are dwindling and pollution plays a major part in this. Shrimp like a nice shoreline of marshes to grow up in. As the marsh land at the mouth of the Mississippi has diminished due to human intervention, the shrimp have started to leave. In addition, the spill by BP ruined marsh grass allowing even more coast to disappear. And the shrimp are slowly going too. What shrimp are caught are sent to foreign countries, as Americans have developed a taste for farmed shrimp from overseas. Work is being done to restore the marsh areas, which will help the shrimp; hoperfull in time.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is something of an environmental case study -- three, in fact -- and a compelling lesson in economics and marketing, told through three simple foods and their sources: oysters in the New York City estuaries, shrimp in Louisiana and the oil-stained Gulf of Mexico, and salmon in far Alaskan waters. The author, as we see, has first-hand experience with the people and fisheries in all three areas and his report, from the scene, is compelling -- and concise and highly readable.

It's not just a story of environmental damage, though he tells it plainly enough: the pollution and sewage in New York harbor, the oil spill in the Gulf, and the threat of the gold and copper Pebble Mine proposal to the salmon fisheries in Alaska. We learn just how badly our export of our remaining seafood -- and our import of cheaper seafood, such that it is, from Asia and elsewhere -- has distorted our own fisheries, our food industries and our nutrition. We learn just how many local jobs and industries are affected, and we see, more clearly, just how much economic damage goes hand-in-hand with environmental degradation.

It is reversible, he says, but it will need a major change in mindset. This book helps; certainly the reader will think differently about what's on the dinner table. And the author is hopeful: "All that the sea asks of us," he writes, "is that we be wide in our harvest, recognize the limits of its bounty, and protect the places where seafood wealth is born. In return the sea will feed us and make us smarter, healthier, and more resilient in the process. Quite a covenant."

Highest recommendation.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Paul Greenberg's "American Catch" is an intense read. Informative, sometimes overwhelming, at times depressing, on the state of America's seafood industry which has taken hits from several directions and Greenberg lays it all out. For anyone who wants to get a better idea of why environmental issues are important to business, this is a book for you.
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