Nov 17 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish…Polluted Fish

Also known as:  Five months after starting, I've finally finished Bottomfeeder.

Why did it take me 5 months?

Frankly, Bottomfeeder isn't an easy book to read.  In my past year of not eating meat--especially in the beginning--I would often classify myself as a pescetarian: I'd eat fish if the menu listed where the fish was sourced.  By May, I couldn't ingore the gnawing feeling (for once this gnawing feeling wasn't hunger!) that in order to be as aware as possible, it was time to dive deep (the cliches are coming out faster than I can type!) into the world of fish to begin to understand the practices, ethics, environmental impact of fish farming, and to learn what kinds of fish are safe to eat...and why.

This brought me to Bottomfeeder.  Since June, I've toted this book with me nearly everywhere, so much so that Justin practically begged me to put it away because it was bogging me down.  Admittedly, I haven't read any other nonfiction book since starting Bottomfeeder.  I try to keep one fiction book and one nonfiction book going at the same time.  Well, I've been flying through my fiction (that means you, Jonathan Franzen), but Bottomfeeder has remained a steady constant--always in my bag with its accompanying red notebook.  A few pages read here and there.  Last week's train ride to Westchester proved to be the final push I needed to finish.  And in return, in a future post, I'll be sharing my notes and reactions with you, with hopes that you won't have to carry this book around for 5 months, but will come away with vital knowledge about fishing practices and unsustainable versus sustainable fish.

While I work on summarizing my thoughts, I want to share a few phrases and quotes I pulled from my notes. Consider the following random sentences as previews before the main event!

Fishing with a bottom trawler is like "using a bulldozer to catch songbirds for food".

Saying a fish was line caught can mean that the line was miles long with tens of thousands of hooks.

“Shrimp are as much a product of industrial agriculture as Monsanto or Chicken McNuggets."

3/4 of China’s lakes are polluted with algae.  China supplies 70% of the planet’s farmed fish.

China is thought to consume 12,000 tonnes of shark fin a year. The global shark populations are collapsing.  This is like "herds of buffalo vanishing form the Great Plains unnoticed".

Tuna:  one of the worst seafood choices you can make.

The country of origin label rarely means the country where the species was caught.