Author and Forager Langdon Cook’s Newest Book

“Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table”

By Liz Terhaar, Communications Director

Langdon Cook

Langdon Cook

Langdon Cook, Seattle-based author and forager, shares what inspired his latest book, “Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table.” It provides an in-depth and timely look at salmon—one of the last wild foods on our table.

Langdon addresses the future of wild salmon by exploring the legacy of overfishing and industrial development; the conflicts between fishermen, environmentalists, and Native Americans; hatchery issues; and the longstanding tensions between science and politics, wilderness and civilization.

Q&A with Langdon Cook

What inspired your transition from writing about foraging mushrooms to a book about salmon?

I saw it as a lateral move. I’ve been writing about wild foods for the last 10 years. I viewed salmon as the ultimate wild food, certainly in North America with entire societies that have formed around the lifecycle of the salmon.

How did you frame this story?

My work is very character-based because I think you need to get to know people first, then maybe you can understand why they have the views that they have. We all love salmon. Everyone in this book loves salmon, but we’re not all on the same page when it comes to conserving the resource and how to conserve it for future generations.

What inspired you to write this book?

We all just want to put food on the table for our family, why should we have to do all this research?

I thought I knew something about salmon and the issues salmon face; as I got into the subject, I realized how little I knew. The book begins at a place of naivete, my naivete, and follows me as one layer of complexity is added on. Going through all these issues, from farmed salmon, to hatchery salmon, to the tribes, commercial fishing, sport angling, and so on, right up through the science and what groups like Riverkeeper are doing.

His Advice to Fellow Riverkeeper Members

Educate yourself. The most basic connection to salmon is as a consumer at the fish market. If we want to make informed decisions, we need to educate ourselves. If you want to be a responsible consumer, it has to start with you.

FC9781101882887Pick up a copy of “Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table” by Langdon Cook at Powell’s Books in Portland, or Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River. For more information about Langdon Cook’s new book, foraging recipes, and his latest events, visit


This feature was originally published in
River Currents 2017 Issue 3 Newsletter – Read it Now

In this Issue: Victory Over Millennium Coal; Reflections on the Eagle Creek Fire; Mentoring the Next Generation of Advocates and Scientists; and more.

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