Does Rainforest Cafe Love the Rainforest?

Janet Kuypers

        Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always had an issue with Rainforest Cafe, because I always wondered why they’d give themselves that name. I was sure that they didn’t use rain forest animals in their menus (like the Thailand zoo does — isn’t that a mixed message...) — I’m sure too many groups would protest that, so I thought that maybe they donated a portion of their profits to help preserve rain forest land. Well, knowing that they design their restaurants with a jungle/safari theme, with fake trees and plants and aquariums with tropical fish everywhere, and seeing how they post a jungle theme shop near their restaurant, I knew that the only took the name Rainforest Cafe as a gimmick to lure people in. Kiddies like the jungle-safari theme, don’t they? They like thinking of rare animals while they eat common animals like seafood, beef or chicken (that won’t confuse their moral conscience).
    I looked on Rainforest Cafe’s web site, to see if they had any information about caring about the rain forests of the world at all. No luck there — their site just directed me to “neat-o” kids menus and how to hold a group party at their restaurant, or how to buy Rainforest Cafe gift cards (they’re a business — they have to sell, sell, sell).
    So after getting the phone number of the local Rainforest Cafe, I called them to ask a simple question: they serve orange juice in their restaurant, so I was wondering — is it from concentrate? Knowing that orange juice from concentrate always uses a portion of their oranges from trees grown on rain forest land (you know, that actually saves the companies money, using rain forest land for plant orange groves), I waited for them to tell me that yes, their gallon jugs of orange juice is from concentrate.
    That’s the least Rainforest Cafe can do... If they can’t serve rain forest animals in their menu, and if they can’t accurately portray a rain forest environment in their restaurants, and if they don’t donate any money to help rain forest land, they can at least promote the destruction of rain forest land in what they sell.



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