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The Sunday Read: ‘The Untold Story of Sushi in America’

In 1980, when few Americans knew the meaning of toro and omakase, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, spoke to dozens of his followers in the Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel.

It was said Moon could see the future, visit you in dreams and speak with the spirit world, where Jesus and Buddha, Moses and Washington, caliphs and emperors and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and even God himself would all proclaim his greatness.

“You,” Moon later recalled telling his followers in the ballroom, “are the pioneers of the fishing business — the seafood business. Go forward, pioneer the way and bring back prosperity.” They did. Today a business they grew and shaped is arguably America’s only nationwide fresh-seafood company of any kind. It specializes in sushi, and its name is True World Foods.

One of Moon’s daughters, In Jin Moon, once asked in a sermon whether their movement really made a difference. “In an incredible way, we did,” she said: Her father created True World Foods. “When he initiated that project,” she went on, “nobody knew what sushi was or what eating raw fish was about.” Her father, she concluded, “got the world to love sushi.”

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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Perez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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