Don't think too hard about it.
You may recall last summer that the people who used to run Darden Restaurants reacted with horror at the suggestion that one way to improve its bottom line was to do away with its practice of throwing away mountains of breadsticks each and every day. Turns out their defense of “Italian generosity” against the cost-cutters did not extend to the men trawling the waters around Indonesia for the shrimp people ate while looking at those breadsticks.
Earlier this year, reports came out that seafood being sold by numerous outlets in the US and the UK had been sourced by Southeast Asian companies engaging in literal slave labor. A new AP report indicates that Darden Restaurants, owners of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and formerly Red Lobster, have been cheerfully sourcing from one company guilty of the practices even after the initial story became public.
So things are better now, right? Now that Starboard Value is in charge, right? I mean, I know they didn’t exactly campaign to overthrow Darden’s board over the slave labor issue, but now that they know about it... oh, fuck it, who am I kidding?
“It’s telling that as Starboard Value took control over Darden’s board in October, the Guardian investigation being out for a few months at this point, Darden didn’t do anything to look into possible slavery and human rights abuses in their own seafood supply chain, and instead turned a blind eye, focused aggressively on profit, and deployed a typical hedge-fund sale-leaseback strategy to leverage the company’s real estate portfolio,” said Lauren Jacobs, National Organizing Director at Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. “It’s unconscionable that any company, let alone a huge restaurant company that literally serves millions of meals every year, touts a sustainability program--specifically a ‘seafood stewardship’ program--would continue to serve their customers seafood knowing that it may very well be connected to slave labor.”
Darden Restaurants Knowingly Sourced From Slave Labor [Jezebel]
Top Seafood Supplier for Olive Garden Parent Company Connected to Slavery & Human Rights Abuses [Daily Kos]
Are slaves catching the fish you buy? [AP]