Beyond the enclosures become dead zones, a cloudy soup of salmon poop, the algae flowers shelter only the dancing specters of the jellyfish. For those who need a connection with mammals: all seals shot at farms are shot with riot guns and underwater bombs.
Flanagan directs a particular fury against the dissonance between industry marketing and his practice. Most infuriating are the references to “our community”. Protests against the construction of new farms or existing farms face Mafia-type threats to business and physical security. Dead animals pushed into mailboxes of sorts. Often, Flanagan’s witnesses suddenly fall silent after an out-of-court settlement. Even more fishy is the way in which protests disappear into government bureaucracy, hijacked or blocked until they simply die out.
Maybe more mercenary consumers could still swallow salmon if he lived up to the hype. Chromosomally altered to grow rapidly, these “frank fish” develop deformities such as incredibly oversized jaws. Living in captivity means they develop far less omega-3s and their flesh is dyed a ghostly white in the ideal shade called “Orange 33”.
Or Toxic works with rage, Mark Kurlansky’s Salmon takes on a more melancholy and poignant line with its story of wild salmon. While these creatures once thrived in the vast river systems of Europe, Britain, Japan, eastern Russia and the North American continent, their stocks are now on the verge of collapse. collapse. Kurlansky is dark about what that means – lose salmon and we lose the planet.
It is not because of overfishing. The Amerindians, underlines Kurlansky, would make immense transports with stocks remaining stable. Their decline is due to much broader human interference: clearing widens rivers and slows their flow, dams hinder the return of salmon, pesticides kill the insects that support them, and, of course, climate change increases the temperature of the salmon. the water. Kurlansky’s book is a critique of human progress in its broad profile – what do we lose to achieve it?
Salmon are particularly sensitive to the entry of civilization into the natural world due to their life cycle. This journey of young fry diving downstream through freshwater rivers to spend their adult lives in the open sea, then, the natural wonder of their heroic return upstream to their exact birthplace to spawn and die . The salmon is a symbol of noble tenacity – it will not stop jumping upstream to return home. However, they are doing so in smaller and smaller numbers.
The extent of the loss makes it difficult to read. Europe, once a wild Gothic landscape where rapids teeming with salmon swept over the rocks, is transformed into an industrial wasteland where dead rivers are choked by industrial sludge. It is cleaned but the salmon rarely return.
Worse yet, the arrival of the white man in North America. Nez Perce and other nations incorporated wisdom into their belief system that preserved and respected the salmon they caught. Their practices were sustainable in the most literal sense (the native Salish have no word for famine).
In the wake of border violence, progress that is more institutionalized but just as devastating. The children of the pioneers built canneries, collecting as long as it was left to rot on the banks or turned into fertilizer. The desecration of salmon and the Native American natural code is palpable.
What has endured is the law of unintended consequences. By saving the salmon, we are desperately trying to redeem the original sin of upsetting the balance of nature that saw wild salmon stocks dwindle to a fraction of a fraction. Nothing seems to be working – the hatcheries haven’t filled the streams as promised, but the escaped stocks have instead degraded the genetics of wild salmon.
We must respect Kurlansky’s refusal of false consolations. He is unwavering in his belief that further manipulation of habitats and genetics will never bring humanity back to our Garden of Eden. He and Flanagan agree that the solution is to separate humanity’s gigantic protein needs from salmon. In this, Toxic and Salmon are companions because they both bring to light the truth that lies beneath the surface.