TED Talk Review: Dan Barber

I hope you’re not rolling your eyes at another TED Talk review because despite the abysmal not-so-fantastic hits these articles get compared to my others, I like ’em. Besides sending out handfuls upon handfuls of résumés for open Editorial Assistant positions all over the country, I don’t have too much going on with my professional life. So, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time planning trips to visit friends wherever they are, whether that be L.A. or Madrid, and delving even deeper into my close relationship with a guy I like to call Netflix and the TED Talks he provides for me.

TED Talk Opening

I never really bothered with TED Talks until recently, but after watching a few all I could think was “Where have these been all my life?!” In reality, they are significantly older than I am, so most of them were just waiting for me to find them. Dan Barber’s TED Talk from 2010 entitled “How I Fell in Love with a Fish” is one part of a grouping within Netflix called Chew On This. This conglomeration of talks all deal with some aspect of food, so I imagine my Friday nights are going to be pretty busy from now on.

Dan Barber

This fishy talk revolves around sustainability and the fish we eat. Barber, a well-regarded chef who serves on President Obama’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, discusses his relationships with two different fish and the impact they had on him. One fish, which he describes with lusty language, is very representative of the fish we normally eat. It’s farm-raised in an allegedly sustainable way, but when you look beneath the surface, the fish are fed chicken bits. This fish is the supposed answer to the over-fished seas that are facing destruction, but there is still pollution, diminishing resources, and proof that the modern approach is not always the best. This guy is the catalyst for Barber’s search for the true answer to our fishing problems and leads him on the path towards the other he falls in love with.

Fish #1

The second fish Barber addresses in a more romantic way, but this fish comes from Spain, so I’m not too surprised. If the Spanish fish are anything like the Spanish men, they think they have romance down. In Veta La Palma, Barber relates how he had the best fish he’s ever tasted despite the fact that it was overcooked. Now, these two ideas don’t seem to mesh together, but after seeing the pure ecosystem that produces this fish, Barber was convinced that the way the fish are nurtured is more important than the way they’re cooked. Within this ecosystem, farming is done extensively and birds that eat the fish are looked at as a good thing. For the fish farmers here, all you need to produce great fish is clean water that keeps the skin from soaking up impurities and a system that can sustain itself. It’s probably one of the oldest, simplest concepts in the book, but it’s disappointingly not the option most people opt for these days.

Fish #2

What I appreciate the most about Barber’s talk is how he addresses the problems people raise with farming extensively. The question I hear more often than not whenever anyone proposes bettering our food and food sources is “How are you going to feed the world?” but it’s really a question I hate. Obviously providing food for everyone in the world is incredibly important and no one should be going hungry, but do you really think big fast food chains are concerned about feeding the world when they dish out sub-par meat? Before you can change anything, you need to start with yourself and the community surrounding you, and Barber seems to understand this as well. Heck, if you watch Barber’s talk and follow it with Tristram Stuart’s, there are already boatloads of ideas just waiting to be supported by the masses.


This TED Talk has been my favorite so far and is one that I really encourage others to watch. It’s exciting, funny, and touches upon a lot of really thought-provoking points. Unlike the pig talk I recently reviewed, this one will make you want to actually get up and do something. I’ve ended all of my TED reviews so far with an encouragement to watch the video I discussed, but if I had to choose one to recommend over all the others, this is the one. If you have the time, watch them all because you’re bound to learn something, but if you want a perfect twenty minutes, sit down and watch Barber discuss his love affair with fish.


About A Famished Foodie

Food geek, wannabe Parisian, and lover of polka dots. Author of A Famished Foodie and Superior Spider-Talk contributor. Bold wine, sour beer & dessert make me nerd out.
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8 Responses to TED Talk Review: Dan Barber

  1. I think that fish is called besugo. I remember making a TV commercial about this fish in Madrid, many years ago, for El Corte Ingles Apparently the spanish are mad for it.

    • Jaleh Rose says:

      Interesting! When I was living in Spain, I was up North and we ate a lot of smaller fish. I hadn’t had any experience with this one, and I wasn’t quite sure what type of fish it was that Barber was talking about, so thanks for telling me! I’m going to do some poking around on the internet about it now.

  2. I do love TED Talks as well…how can you not like them? I have learned more real information about so many things listening to them. This one you mentioned about fish is fantastic…I also remember a few about music and one about the commonality of most successful folks…”grit”…we all need some “grit”. Good luck on your job hunting but meanwhile keep listening.

    • Yes! And they are quick enough for our (sadly) increasingly short attention spans. Netflix has a bunch of them, and of course YouTube and podcasts run them as well. I like that they allow you learn about anything, whether or not you have a background in the topic. Definitely something I’ll be listening too more frequently from now on.

  3. I LOVE TED talks. This one sounds like something I would very much enjoy. I’ll have to watch. Thank you.

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