Food & Drink

Paul Greenberg on the seafood you should eat

Author Paul Greenberg.
Author Paul Greenberg.

Seafood expert and author Paul Greenberg has his own version of Michael Pollan’s well-known dietary advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Greenberg’s seafood equivalent is this: Eat American seafood, a wider variety of it, and mostly farmed filter feeders.

Greenberg, 47, author of the James Beard-award-winning best-seller “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” and “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” brings his fish eating advice to the Triangle Friday and Saturday at events related to the annual Farm to Fork picnic.

Greenberg explained in an interview that he came up with this seafood prescription because the main question he gets from the public is: “What should I be eating?”

That’s no surprise given the recent news reports by the Associated Press and The Guardian about slaves being used in the Indonesian and Thai fishing industries, let alone the varied color-coded advice about what fish and seafood are good or bad choices for consumers.

The starting point, Greenberg said, is to only buy American seafood. He points out that a third of wild-caught imported seafood is caught illegally. In contrast, he said, the United States has “some of the best managed fisheries in the world.”

“When you source from American fishermen,” Greenberg said, “you have a better shot at eating ethically.”

Most Americans only eat a handful of fish or seafood; mainly shrimp, salmon, tuna, tilapia and pollock. If consumers varied their seafood consumption, Greenberg said, it could help small-scale fisheries and may prevent overfishing.

Lastly, Greenberg said, consumers need to make sure to eat farmed, filter feeders, such as mussels, clams, scallops and oysters. These bivalves, along with kelp and seaweed, filter the water and encourage aquatic diversity around their beds.

“When you eat farmed, filter feeders, you are investing in clean water,” Greenberg explained.

Finally, Greenberg’s advice to consumers beyond what to eat and how to spend their seafood dollars is this: Get involved. He recommends volunteering in oyster reef restoration projects, if you can, or getting involved with the Waterkeeper Alliance’s local efforts.

Meet the Author

Paul Greenberg is the guest of honor at the Triangle’s annual Farm to Fork picnic, which has expanded to a weekend of events.

▪ From 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, a dinner will be held at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University. The chefs cooking for the dinner include Vivian Howard, star of the PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” and Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery in Durham. Tickets cost $165, which includes a paperback copy of Greenberg’s book, “American Catch.”

▪ From 5-8:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be a clam and mullet bake by Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood in Durham and James Clark of The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. The dinner will be followed by a talk by Greenberg and a panel discussion featuring North Carolina fishing industry experts. Tickets: $45 for the event and a paperback copy of Greenberg’s book, or $35 without the book. This event will be held at The Rickhouse in Durham.

▪ From 4-7 p.m. June 7, the annual Farm to Fork picnic will be held at the W.C Breeze Family Farm, 4909 Walnut Grove Church Road, Hurdle Mills. Tickets: $100 for adults, $50 for ages 13-20, free for 12 and younger.

For more details and tickets, go to

Win the book

We’re giving away a copy of “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” by Paul Greenberg. To enter, go to the N&O’s Lifestyles Facebook page. Leave a comment below the post about the giveaway before noon Friday. You also must “Like” our page to enter the giveaway because it makes it easier for us to notify you if you win.