Paul Greenberg

City, State
New York, New York
United States
Award Year


Project Details

The Omega Principle: A Journey to the Bottom of the Marine Food Web 

Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood are now recognized as beneficial to human health—contributing to neural development, preventing heart disease, and leading to a healthier human population. People typically obtain these nutrients from fish and taking dietary supplements made from menhaden, krill, and other forage fish—small schooling species that play a critical role in the marine food web as prey for larger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. With his Pew fellowship, Greenberg will research and write The Omega Principle: A Journey to the Bottom of the Marine Food Web. Its publication is intended to increase public understanding of marine food webs and threats they face from overfishing, depletion of forage species, ocean acidification, and a warming climate. 

Greenberg will first focus on phytoplankton and zooplankton, where omega-3s are formed and then transferred up the food web. Next he will examine krill, which eat plankton. In this section he will investigate the warming of the poles, the krill fishing industry, and the political dynamics between industrialized nations of the north—primarily Russia, China, and the United States—and developing nations of the global south as the two hemispheres vie for control of Antarctic resources. Finally, he will look at forage fish—primarily krill, herring, anchovies, and menhaden that, every year, are caught by the trillions and converted into feed for pigs, chickens, salmon, and even pets. Greenberg will discuss the need to decrease the use of forage fish to feed terrestrial animals and humans and present options for obtaining an ecologically sound omega-3-rich human diet from more sustainable sources.


Paul Greenberg is the author of the bestseller Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, a work The New York Times Book Review called "a necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why." Four Fish has been published in North America, Europe, and Asia and was picked by The New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and The New York Times as a notable book of 2010. His most recent work, American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood (Penguin Press, June 2014), explores why the United States, the country that owns more ocean than any nation in the world, imports more than three-quarters of its seafood. 

Greenberg writes regularly for The New York Times and has also contributed to National Geographic, Vogue, GQ, The Times of London, Süddeutschen Zeitung, and many other publications. He has addressed audiences at Harvard University, Google, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Other recognition includes a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, a Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellowship, a Blue Ocean Institute Fellowship, and writing residencies at the South Street Seaport Museum and the Bogliasco Foundation. 

Throughout the 1990s, Greenberg was with the nonprofit Internews Network, training independent journalists in the former Soviet Union, producing conflict resolution programing in the former Yugoslavia, and working with Palestinian reporters to promote free media in the Levant in the wake of the Oslo accords. Greenberg received a bachelor's degree in Russian studies from Brown University.