Warning: This Could Ruin Your Appetite for Sushi

Maybe I’ve still got food on the brain following our first Food Issue, but I’m fascinated by a recent story in the Chicago Tribune about Sun Myung Moon’s sushi empire. Yes, that Sun Myung Moon. Founder of the controversial Unification Church. Hailed as the messiah by followers. Considered a cult leader by critics.

In the 1970s, Reverend Moon set his sites on creating an elaborate fishing enterprise to fund his church. The now global business does it all, from building the fishing boats to catching, processing, and delivering the fish. True World Foods, a subsidiary of the non-profit Unification Church International, supplies most of the sushi restaurants in the country, about 7,000 restaurants in all.

True World is obviously not the only business straddling religion and commerce. Chick-fil-A, a past winner of our Customer First awards, certainly isn’t shy about espousing its Christian values. At the store opening I attended, they were a big draw; some customers even conducted a Bible study session while waiting in line for the doors to open.

But Reverend Moon’s dominance of the sushi industry was news to me. And while I haven’t given up sushi, it’s definitely given me pause. How about you? Does it matter that your spicy tuna roll ultimately supports the Unification Church? Can you separate the cause from the product?