Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Green Books Campaign: Sustainable Sushi - a Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.


The book I have chosen to review for the campaign is Sustainable Sushi, a guide to saving the oceans one bite at a time by Casson Trenor.
I have mentioned a couple of times here how I am a sushi lover. If fact, I could eat sushi every day and live happily ever after. Except the oceans wouldn't be as happy as my tummy. The truth is that the way many of our favourite sushi staples such as the bluefin tuna and the eel have been heavily overfished to supply for their ever-growing demand have affected the ecosystems and are in danger of threatening their survival.
This is something anyone could have guessed. After all we are used to being told that the our world is being squeezed out to its limits and it's running out of resources. But did you know that it's not just wild fishing to blame and that fish farms (or at least some types) are just as dangerous? Do you know the difference between trolling, purse seine and long line fishing? Have you ever wondered where your delicious maguro sashimi come from and how it has been caught?
Personally I knew little about these issues before reading this book. I had a sort of idealistic idea in my head that eating fish is better than eating meat, because it's less polluted, or because it doesn't involve industrial farming. Clearly I was wrong. Very wrong.

This little but informative - and surprisingly entertaining - guide does a wonderful job in debunking these myths and in providing an unforgiving view on the state of our oceans. Thankfully, at the same time, it provides us with a choice. It doesn't tell us "Stop eating sushi now". Instead it offers valid alternatives which promise to be just as good. It also invites us to be more inquisitive at the sushi bar counter. If you want to know whether your salmon is wild or farmed, the only way to find out is by asking!
Ultimately, it encourages us to be more aware. To think with our minds and not just with our gluttony.

The format of the book is an A to Z to the most popular shushi choices. For each it gives a concise but well-researched profile which includes informations on how and where they are caught, whether or not they're an endangered species, and whether or not they are at high mercury risk. It also has great colourful illustrations for each fish.
At the end there's a short section on sushi packaging and its recycling. Again, I found myself realising how little I know about this topic.
But my favourite part was, possibly, the very last one. A small section called "Taking it further", where the author suggests some vegan and vegetarian options for our handmade sushi rolls. Some ideas include sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and even strawberries. I can't wait to try them all out.

Even though I agree with the author when he says that changing the eating habits of few individuals isn't the magic solution for every problem, I also agree about what he says after: The point of this book is to help you start thinking about sustainability in all aspects of life.
I think it has worked on me so far. I feel like there's a big dark hole in my knowledge that needs to be filled. I want to be more aware of how our world works and what I can do to make it work better. I hope it will push lots more people to do the same.

My only complain is that this book is very much US-oriented. It has been written by a North-American guy for a North-American audience. And although I am interested in knowing how fish farms work in the US, it doesn't always help in making a responsible choice here, at my local sushi bar. It's still a valuable introduction on the topic and I will treasure it for this, but I will have to make my own research locally, to know more details.

A bit of information on the author:
From saving the whales of the Antarctic to studying the salmon of Alaska, Casson Trenor has worked to support stewardship of our marine resources in all five oceans and countless seas. Trenor has extensive experience and expertise: he has stalked the fetid warehouses of Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, spent two months journeying by ship along the Antarctic coast, berthed on leaking wrecks off Central Pacific islands, and gone octopus fishing with holy men on the Island of Yap. In thousands of conversations with fishermen around the world, he has heard one statement repeated: “The fish are gone.” Born in Seattle and living in San Francisco, Trenor speaks five languages, has traveled to over forty countries, and holds an MA in International Environmental Policy from the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is a top consultant for the first fully sustainable sushi restaurant in the United States: Tataki Sake and Sushi Bar in San Francisco. Sustainable Sushi is a culmination of Trenor’s life work.

If interested, you can purchase Sustainable Sushi at this link

And now head to the other 99 reviews that will be posted today for the campaign! That's a lot of reviews:)

6 comments:

Nymeth said...

While I'm not exactly a sushi lover myself, I'm glad a book like this exists. I agree with you and the author: it's important to start considering sustainability in every aspect of our lives.

Also, very excited about the campaign :D

Serena said...

I don't really like sushi, but my husband does. This would help inform him of how his sushi habit impacts the oceans.

Good review for the green books campaign.

Melody said...

Great review! This book sounds great and very informative!

I'm enjoying reading all the reviews for the Green Books Campaign.

mariel said...

Excellent post Valentina. I am vegetarian for several reasons, and though I would never pressure anyone to stop eating meat or fish, I am very active in campaigning for sustainable fishing. Part of that campaign requires consumers to be smart about what they choose to eat. For anyone interested in such campaigns, I would recommend the Marine Conservation Society website, and their Good Fish Guide which can help people make smart decisions when buying fish. You dont have to stop eating, just continue asking the right questions.

http://www.mcsuk.org/
http://www.fishonline.org/

book collection said...

nice review and great book

valentina said...

thanks Mariel for those links! I need to check them out!
Now that I know that farmed salmon is a big No-No I realised how nearly impossible it is to find non-farmed ones. All the salmon in the supermarkets are farmed! arghhh.

I love salmon:P