The above two books are the best (non-spiritual) non-fiction I have read since the Omnivore’s Dilemma a few years ago. Now that I have to return them to the library after hogging them for months, I thought I’d review them together since I wrote extensively on the topic of their content in former posts: (see here and see here.)
The End of the Line by Charles Clover has been heralded by the media as “the maritime equivalent of Silent Spring.” It is a thorough education on the subtitled subject, “How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat.”
Clover says, “In a single lifetime we have inflicted a crisis on the oceans greater than any yet caused by pollution. That crisis compares with the destruction of mammoths, bison, whales, the rape of the rain forests… As a method of mass destruction, fishing with modern technology is the most destructive activity on Earth.” “Our understanding of how to exploit the resource has moved much faster than our ability to manage it.”
I love how he ends this book by imagining a different future than that which we seem apparently headed for, where good decisions have been made, and we have beat the depressing trajectory of the status quo. In this way, he traces what would have to happen to make that positive future possible. As quoted in a previous post, we are left with hope of what to do if only we will seize the day and do it. ““We have on offer two futures. One requires difficult, active choices starting now. If we don’t take those choices, the other future will happen…”
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe is a more recent book than the aforementioned. I started reading it first, and interrupted reading it to get more background from the other book, before resuming it. But this is not necessary, especially with the overview obtained from my former two blog posts about the issue. Whereas Charles Clover is an investigative reporter, Taras Grescoe is a seafood lover who makes a “round-the-world quest for truly decent meal.”
Grescoe writes very well and it is interesting on lots of levels. He is the one that used this imagery for trawlers: “Imagine using a bulldozer to catch songbirds for food.” He was also good at explaining things in layman’s terms: “It was as though fisherman were removing 60 to 80 percent of their capital from their savings accounts every year and still hoping to keep a healthy bank balance.” His imagery was vivid in general, even when setting the peripheral scene. For example, the tsunami would “loom over some beaches in Thailand at the height of a three-story building, draping the crowns of palm trees with cadavers.” This book was not only enlightening but a pleasure to read, because of his accessible writing style, his willingness to try to understand the culture he was in, as well as his astonishingly intrepid adventurousness toward what he was willing to eat.
Between the two, I feel not only educated, but empowered and resolute. This was a study definitely worth doing, and now I will be following this issue and and trying to influence it. For starters, I am off to make (a low trophic level) fish dinner!