Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures Farming the Ocean to Fight Climate Change (Paperback)
You’ve heard the expression “Swear like a sailor.” After reading Smith’s memoir, I made this modification: “Swear like a fisherman turned restorative ocean farmer”. Although Smith’s language is strong at times, this refreshing and honest account of a lifelong fisherman is sure to make you smile. Filled with wild, laugh-out-loud stories from his youth and beyond, with occasional somber moments, Smith’s book takes you along on his adventures. From an ecological perspective, the story is fascinating, a beacon of light in our restoration of marine ecosystems, but really this is an unconventional tale of how anyone can be a defender of what they love. ~ Willa— From Staff Favorites 2020
JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER
IACP Cookbook Award finalist
In the face of apocalyptic climate change, a former fisherman shares a bold and hopeful new vision for saving the planet: farming the ocean. Here Bren Smith—pioneer of regenerative ocean agriculture—introduces the world to a groundbreaking solution to the global climate crisis.
A genre-defining “climate memoir,” Eat Like a Fish interweaves Smith’s own life—from sailing the high seas aboard commercial fishing trawlers to developing new forms of ocean farming to surfing the frontiers of the food movement—with actionable food policy and practical advice on ocean farming. Written with the humor and swagger of a fisherman telling a late-night tale, it is a powerful story of environmental renewal, and a must-read guide to saving our oceans, feeding the world, and—by creating new jobs up and down the coasts—putting working class Americans back to work.
About the Author
Bren Smith is a former commercial fisherman turned ocean farmer who pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming. Born and raised in Newfoundland, he left high school at the age of 14 to work on fishing boats from the Grand Banks to the Bering Sea. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic, The Atlantic, and elsewhere; his ocean farm won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for ecological design, and, in 2017, was named one of TIME magazine’s Best Inventions. He is the owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, and Executive Director of the non-profit Greenwave, which trains new ocean farmers.
“A mindbending look into an extraordinary world by a stunning and gifted story teller.” —Paul Hawken, author of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
“Bren Smith’s book on seaweed farming is something I’ve been looking forward to for years.” —Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything
“A perfect balance between personal storytelling and blueprint for a new way to harvest our seas that can create meaningful jobs while simultaneously combatting climate change.” —Forbes
“This is a voice we haven’t heard before, a celebration of the daring life of fishermen—and a passionate argument that we must do things differently. Reading this book is a wild ride that will change the way you think of the sea—and ultimately change the way you eat. It should be required reading for everyone.” —Ruth Reichl
“Bren Smith is a hero of ours—not just for his ingenious vertical farming of kelp and shellfish in the Thimble Islands, but for facing squarely the root causes of one crisis with many symptoms: climate change, desertification, obesity and hunger. This book shows us new ways to grow food and make a living that can both heal the planet and make life more satisfying.” —Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia
“What a remarkable book! Bren Smith has a (wild) life story to recount, a novel food-growing technique to describe, and a planet to help save. He’s a deft enough writer to pull it all off, with a wry joy that left me (more than usually) hopeful about our future.” —Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet and Radio Free Vermont
“Seaweed is the food of the future; it’s a powerhouse of nutrition and holds a world of untapped flavor and deliciousness. Bren’s underwater kelp farms can feed us for years to come and the more we eat, the more we also give back to the ocean. This book leads the way.” —René Redzepi, Head Chef & Co-owner Restaurant noma
"Bren's arc from fishing the ocean to death to farming it back to life is the story of personal and potential planetary redemption we need. I am enamored with regenerative ocean farming—such an elegant way to address climate change, restore ecosystems, create jobs, and nourish ourselves—and I hope this book will inspire a whole generation of ocean farmers." —Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist and founder of Ocean Collectiv
“Part memoir, part treatise on the life of a professional fisherman, part manual for the future of eating worldwide, this unique book cannot help but make readers think long and hard about the fate of the earth as it faces the challenges of global warming and the outlook for feeding the planet. . . . Smith has now become a visionary leader in cultivating what may turn out to be a primary source of the world’s food. This is a book about a man as well as a book about an idea. . . . Readers will learn more about ocean farming here than they learned about whaling from Moby Dick, and will walk away with a handful of practical, tasty seaweed recipes to boot.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Smith is an articulate, very human ambassador for sustainable, ethical and environmentally beneficial mariculture, weaving his plea for changing the way we eat with solid proof of why it’s so necessary. He includes a global history here as well, spanning coastal cultures from China and Japan to Scotland and Atlantic Canada, all rich with best practices and viable traditions…If this new age of ‘climate cuisine’ needs an introduction, Eat Like a Fish is surely it.” —BookPage
"In Eat Like a Fish, part memoir, part do-it-yourself handbook, [Smith] offers kelp as a means to environmental and economic justice for imperiled fishing communities." —The New York Review of Books
"Where do you go when you’re searching for an antidote to paralyzing stories of environmental despair and catastrophe? All too often, the hopeful alternative proposals in popular environmental studies books ask their readers to believe in a world that quickly stretches the bounds of credibility, where new green technologies work perfectly as they scale up, or political differences and histories of injustice are swept away with the dawn of a shared universal eco-consciousness. Bren’s book does’t do this. It keeps all the mess and trouble out in the open. . . . A story of ecological redemption that’s actually believable. In Eat Like a Fish, things don’t go according to plan, stuff breaks, people are jerks—and yet, through it all, Bren and friends keep going, not driven by naive optimism or messianic promises, but by the repeated application of practical, place-based experience." —Mark Bomford, Director, Yale Sustainable Food Program
“A thoughtful . . . eco-agro-pescatorial manifesto. . . . [Smith] describes how he came to realize that overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and other forces are making it impossible to extract a living from the sea—at least the sea as it is now. Instead, he has been busily working a stretch of Long Island Sound, raising shellfish and kelp, both of which are restorative. . . . Smith harbors a big vision of lots of little oceanic farms producing tons of seaweed and hundreds of thousands of crustaceans per acre—an economic revolution, he ventures, that could create 50 million direct jobs and a whole host of related ones. The author is no purist—he allows that he has a weakness for McDonald's fish sandwiches and once lived a life of ‘stealing, dealing, fighting’—but it's clear that he's found a place among the back-to-the-landers, foodies, and greenies whom he might have made fun of back in the day but whom he now sees as allies.” —Kirkus Reviews