Adhering to a plan Moon spelled out more than three decades ago in a series of sermons, members of his movement managed to integrate virtually every facet of the highly competitive seafood industry. The Moon followers' seafood operation is driven by a commercial powerhouse, known as True World Group. It builds fleets of boats, runs dozens of distribution centers and, each day, supplies most of the nation's estimated 9,000 sushi restaurants.
Although few seafood lovers may consider they're indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement, they do just that when they eat a buttery slice of tuna or munch on a morsel of eel in many restaurants. True World is so ubiquitous that 14 of 17 prominent Chicago sushi restaurants surveyed by the Tribune said they were supplied by the company.
Over the last three decades, as Moon has faced down accusations of brainwashing followers and personally profiting from the church, he and sushi have made similar if unlikely journeys from the fringes of American society to the mainstream.
These parallel paths are not coincidence. They reflect Moon's dream of revitalizing and dominating the American fishing industry while helping to fund his church's activities.
"I have the entire system worked out, starting with boat building," Moon said in "The Way of Tuna," a speech given in 1980. "After we build the boats, we catch the fish and process them for the market, and then have a distribution network. This is not just on the drawing board; I have already done it."
In the same speech, he called himself "king of the ocean." It proved not to be an idle boast. The businesses now employ hundreds, including non-church members, from the frigid waters of the Alaskan coast to the iconic American fishing town of Gloucester, Mass.
Yeah, I know. We all face these decisions every day, and the correct response isn't often clear. Sushi is an indulgence for me, not a staple, so whatever choice I ultimately make will at least be easily rationalized. In the meantime, I'm going to sulk a little. Feh.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 15, 2006 to Food, glorious food | TrackBack