Speaking of Nick Day, he just pointed me to Nick Tosches’s recent and terrific Vanity Fair piece on Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market and the evolution of the American taste for fish from Chicken of the Sea to sashimi. It touches upon loads of interesting stuff (Day notes that it’s everything that this book should have been), but remarkably Tosches never once notes the environmental cost of harvesting bluefin tuna–the market star that can grow to 12 feet long and 1,500 pounds and that environmental writer Charles Clover describes in The End of the Line as “disgracefully overfished” and “one of the ocean’s most astounding and endangered mega-fauna”–or of air-freighting said tuna from Massachusetts to Tokyo and then back to New York City and the $60,000 blond-wood sushi bar at Masa over the course of three days.
Granted, Vanity Fair is a general interest magazine (assuming “general interest” = the foibles of the ultrarich), and it’s entirely possible that Tosches doesn’t share Clover’s concern for the global stock of sea critters. But neither overfishing nor food miles are exactly fringe concerns anymore. If anything, the omission of anything smacking of politics from the piece simply speaks to the niche mindset of the publishing industry–we like our food writing over here with the culture stuff and our politics safely in the front of the book.