Many like to call themselves disruptors but Eat Like A Fish author Bren Smith is absolutely not the standard corporate disruptor-type who presents well in a suit.
No, Smith has past form at being disruptive in the classic fights-in-bars, time-in-jail, too-much-booze manner, before he found a new calling as a 3D ocean farmer and kickstarted an entire grassroots regenerative ocean farming movement.
His book is part memoir, part DIY manual, part manifesto and an entirely rollicking adventure story. There’s swears, scares and high seas thrills and spills. There’s science, ecology, economics, politics and culinary wisdom too. “Kelp is the new kale” according to Smith – and he’s got the taste tests to back it up.
Where a librarian might shelve the book is anyone’s guess – but for anyone concerned about how we fight climate change, feed the masses and support the economic and social health of small communities, it’s a must-read missive.
Here’s just one of the fun facts he’s discovered – feeding cattle a small supplement of kelp reduces the methane emissions from cattle herds by a whopping 53 per cent.
Smith grew up in Newfoundland, Canada, and dropped out of school young to become a commercial fisherman. He’s unsparing in his assessment of what the industry has done to ocean ecology, while also acknowledging there’s a cultural dimension to making a living from the sea that’s not easy to abandon.
After a stint studying law, he eventually developed a system of small-scale regenerative ocean farming that integrates shellfish and seaweed in a wholly sustainable manner, launched a start-up, founded a movement, and encountered the perils of taking a big idea out into a market swimming with sharks.
For the science fans, there’s oodles of information about how shellfish and seaweed can be beneficial for ocean ecology and wider environmental health. For the foodies, there’s tales of spectacular meals involving sustainable sea vegetables and a raft of recipes to try at home.
For the adventure lovers, there’s wild true stories of storms, towering waves, drunken deckhands and fishermen. And for those who are passionate about community-supported agriculture, battling corporate
industrialisation of the food supply or impact investing, there’s plenty of food for thought.
Seriously down to earth, laden with salty lingo, deeply thoughtful, often funny and defiantly humble, Smith’s story deserves to be widely read. His vision is ultimately hopeful, practical and sensible – and above all, scalable and replicable.
It’s the perfect book to toss in the bag for a weekend on the coast too!