Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From Australia - Bottomfeeder

I literally got a huge smile the other day when I found a review of Bottomfeeder at Kathryn's blog, Limes & Lycopenes. It was one of my top five books this year.

One of the things that made me smile about this review is Kathryn found three different covers for the book. And then of course I smiled because she liked the book and I liked the review. If you give Bottomfeeder a read, I hope you do too. In any event, big thanks to Kathryn in Australia for sharing the review.
I’ve been buying some books recently. All sorts of volumes. Books about food, nutrition and cooking. As well as some meaty stuff on sustainability and the ethics surrounding what we eat.

And the first one is Bottomfeeder.

While it seems like one of those worthy books, the sort of thing you know you should read, but don’t really want to, Bottomfeeder is an absolute beauty.In it Taras Grescoe goes on a world tour, eating fish as he travels. He interviews restauranteurs and marine biologists, visits fish markets and joins fisherman out on their boats. All the while looking at the effects we humans are having on sea life.

Each chapter tells a story. About a location and a specific fish. From oysters in Chesapeake Bay, cod sold at the local chippy in Britain, through to sardines in the Med, shrimps in India and bluefin tuna sashimi in Japan, Taras Grescoe examines how what we eat impacts the local fish stocks. And the local environment.

It’s an alarming book. Grescoe’s account of our declining marine environment is worrying reading and he doesn’t shrink from the complexities and difficulties we face.

However, it’s beautifully written: full of humanity, a sense of history, humour and smart commentary. Plus wondrous descriptions of the actual fish themselves: the often bizarre creatures from the deep we catch and eat, yet know so little about.Taras Grescoe is a fish eater and after writing and researching the book, he is determined to keep on eating fish. However he wants to choose fish that is managed and caught sustainably. Therefore at the very end of the book, separated into the three groups No, Never; Depends, Sometimes and Absolutely, Always, is a list of what fish to eat and what to avoid.

W‎hile there is an increasing amount of information available on many aspects of eating sustainably, I’ve found good, smart information on fish hard to find. Taras Grescoe’s book fills many of these gaps.

If you’re interested in climate change, sustainability and where the food you eat comes from, then Bottomfeeder is an important book.

2 comments:

Abbie said...

I bought this book back over the summer and never read it. My husband and his brother are avid saltwater fishermen and own an aqauculture business (clams and oysters). I decided I'm giving my unopened copy of the book to my BIL for Christmas. I'm sure he'll enjoy it :)

kathryn said...

Hi there Abbie: I'd be really interested to know what your brother-in-law thought of the book, being someone involved in aquaculture.

It's an interesting subject, but the book is also so well written and I really enjoyed reading it.

Oysters do come out well in Taras Grescoe's analysis - in fact they're in the Absolutely, Always grouping.