Author Bren Smith declares, “I have the heart of a fisherman and the soul of a farmer,” and in his memoir, Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer, he proves this to be true over and over again. Starting off on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, he passed through Massachusetts (and through its jails), climbed onto lobster boats, plied his way north again to Alaskan fisheries and finally landed on the Thimble Islands off the New England coast. The salty adolescent who loved the company of fishermen and could swig and swear with the best of them evolved into an expert ocean farmer, pioneering the “climate cuisine” industry and promising an innovative way of feeding our beleaguered planet. Take a new look at what’s for dinner: seaweed.
As Smith scales up from his 20-acre vertical ocean farm, he births an industry that must struggle to avoid the “sharks”—and mistakes—of globalized big business, and he hooks celebrity chefs like Mark Bittman and Rene Redzepi. Kelp noodles soon take center stage on the plates of upscale New York and Las Vegas restaurants, and Google starts serving them in innovative offerings in their employee cafeterias. For those who wonder about ingredients, Smith includes recipes like Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Kelp and Barbecue Kelp and Carrots, along with where to find the goods.
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.
Calling for “all hands on deck” to achieve survival as climate change continues to alter our natural resources, Smith urges that we learn to eat what the ocean can grow instead of growing only what we are used to eating. He offers ways to help like cooking and fertilizing with seaweed and shellfish and supporting local “sea trusts.” And GreenWave, the company he helped found, provides an open-source farming manual for building your own kelp hatchery. If this new age of “climate cuisine” needs an introduction, Eat Like a Fish is surely it.