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What’s in our animal feed? and what are we eating?

It’s Halal but is it Humane? how are we treating our animals?



Eat Local, Live Well

check out the Locavore Diet

Exporting American Halal it’s good for everyone

Islamic Finance in the USA isn’t it time there was more of it?

American Muslim Millennials do we know what they really want?

| For free distribution | Issue 04 | September 2012 |

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B • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Message from the Founder Salaam and peace be upon you all! a work-in-progress that requires patience, dedication to the cause and the determination to stay the course. We take a look at the encouraging parallels with the rise of the Hispanic and African American markets in the US as well as the expectations of a new generations of American Muslims who will be a key demographic as the domestic Halal market matures in the coming Throughout the entire process of producing this issue of the magazine, we have years. Prioritizing the issues that we are facing, reflected deeply on the realities of our lives and developing platforms for effective as Muslims living and working in America, collaboration among the various stakeholders building our communities, nurturing our in industry, in government, among our families and strengthening our businesses‌ all part of the journey of finding our authentic certification bodies and with our grass-roots communities‌these are the major challenges place in this great country of ours. that we face. We believe that collectively we have an At the AHA, we call on all those who believe important and meaningful contribution to in the future of the Halal movement in America, make. The market for Halal goods and services and the contribution that we can play both at is a central focus that touches all of our lives. home and around the world, to join us. It is a tree to be fed and watered, and one that Together we can raise the standards, will bear fruits of many kinds. increase the profile, and heighten the impact At the American Halal Association, we that we can have by making the best Halal remain committed to the task of strengthening the Halal market and the various Halal-related goods and services available to all. And as we invite you to dip into the 4th industries and businesses in the USA. issue of HalalConnect, we hope that you will There are many challenges ahead of find it informative and maybe even thoughtus as we strive to give the Halal sector its provoking in places. Please enjoy it, and feel appropriate place within the landscape of US free to send us your thoughts and feedback. commerce. What we have striven for in this issue of As salamu alaykum, HalalConnect is to bring a sense of direction by reviewing some of the issues that confront us such as standards, accreditation, government Ahmad Adam regulation, Islamic finance, as well as the opportunities offered by rising trends such as Halal exports, street food and sourcing local Ahmad Adam foods. Editor-in-Chief Developing a new market is inevitably Founder of the American Halal Association As I sit to write this, the holy month of Ramadan has concluded and Muslims across the globe have celebrated Eid ALFitr. Reflections, ideas and contributions for HalalConnect have been coming in from all quarters of the country and both sides of the Atlantic ocean. | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 1

Contents September 2012 1

Message from the Founder


Halal at the Crossroads - where do we go from here?

by Abdalhamid Evans


Exporting American Halal

by Sara Syed


Trending - Second Generation American Muslim Millennials

by Rafi-uddin Shikoh


Takin’ it to the Streets

Ibrahim Abed & Kiran Ansari


What are we really eating?


American Muslim Millennials - what do they really want?

by Rushdi Siddiqui


Shaping the American Muslim marketplace

by Faisal Masood


Halal and Humane

by Abdalhamid Evans


Halal - is it here yet?

5 Halal at the Crossroads - left, right and straight ahead...a look at our options

by Naazish YarKhan


Eat Local & LIve Well

by Yvonne Maffei


Eat Local & Live Well - is it an integral part of an Islamic lifestyle?


by Susan Labadi

Islamic Finance in the USA


2 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Halal & Humane - Animal welfare has to be higher on the agenda

28 Halal - is it here yet? - consumers need to be more proactive

September 2012 9


Exporting Halal - opportunities for US companies


EDITOR IN CHIEF Ahmad Adam SENIOR EDITOR Abdalhamid Evans EDITOR Salama Evans

18 What are we really eating? (it ain’t just chickenfeed)

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rushdi Siddiqui Rafi-uddin Shikoh Faisal Masood Naazish YarKhan Susan Labadi Abdalhamid Evans Sara Syed Yvonne Maffei Kiran Ansari Ibrahim Abed MARKETING & SALES Joohi Tahir ADMINISTRATION Asma Khan DESIGN Imarat Consultants


A look at the local Muslim marketplace


PUBLISHED BY American Halal Association 444 E. Roosevelt Rd, Ste. 251 Lombard, IL 60148-4630 Tel: +1 630 528 3400 Fax: +1 630 528 3239 Printed by: Alwan Printing, Inc. 7825 South Roberts Rd. Bridgeview, IL 60455-1405 Tel: +1 708 598 9600


Islamic Finance in the USA - why isn’t there more of it?

HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK Drop us a line at Submission of a letter or email constitutes permission to publish it in any form or medium. Letters may be edited for reasons of space and clarity. xxx | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 3

4 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |



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by Abdalhamid Evans

couple of years ago, at a large convention, the speaker was reflecting on the successes of the American Muslim community, with our many mosques, schools and centres. To build on this success, we were encouraged to build more mosques, schools and community centres. Now, while one cannot disagree with this noble aspiration, I could not help feeling that something was missing from that picture. As Muslims living in America, we have successfully brought Islam into our homes and families, our mosques and community schools and centres. You could say that we are safe in these arenas, our Islam is safe. The two arenas where we have yet to have any significant impact and influence, and where we are consequently more at risk, are the realms of culture and commerce. It has even been contended that commerce is a sub-set of culture; that culture, in its fullest sense, incorporates not just our creative or recreational endeavours, but the ways in which we earn our livelihood, do business, do our shopping, how we manage our

affairs and govern ourselves, how we interact with technology, science, medicine. 1 If we consider the Halal movement in this light, we can see that it represents much more than the kind of food we eat. Our food, and the ways in which we produce it, is a natural focal point in our lives as Muslims, highlighted by our presence in a non-Muslim western democracy. Halal is a focal point that serves as a gathering place for many of the issues that we face, as a community striving for useful integration and participation in the broader American project. It is both spiritual and mundane, and it serves as a useful lens to explore the landscape of our lives as Muslims in America. If we pause at the crossroads, we can reflect on where we find ourselves. Where have we come from? What dangers lie on the road to the left? What opportunities lie to the right? And what lies immediately in front of us? Let us consider the signs. 1 ~ See Islam and the Cutural Imperative by Dr Umaar Faruq Abdallah, a Nawawi Foundation paper, 2004 | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 5

The Journey So Far

Perhaps more than anything, there have been changes in perception. From the early position that as immigrants in a Christian country, the food of the People of the Book is permissible to us, to a deeper recognition that the production of Halal food is not just a collective responsibility, but also a key element in strengthening our identities as Muslims in America. Conversely, there has also been a shift away from the idea that, for example, the only Halal chicken is the one on the counter with the head, feet and feathers still attached. High quality Halal food in hygienic, vacuum packed trays has become the norm; we have moved from the backyard and into the factory and the supermarket. Halal has entered and is making itself at home in the technological age. The past decade has seen Halal emerge as a global movement. Trade Ministers discuss whether Halal production can boost exports or stimulate foreign investment. Senior executives of major multinational paying attention to corporations gather this market makes around the boardroom tables to decide what good business sense ‘position’ to take on Halal. Standards for Halal slaughter, manufacturing, food service, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and logistics are being debated and drafted in many countries around the world. The realizations about the size, preferences and spending power of the Muslims, both globally, and in minority markets such as the USA and Europe, have sparked the creation of Islamic marketing agencies, and studies by financial consulting companies to assess the potential and direction of this new market. Major food producing countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Brazil have evolved sophisticated production and quality assurance models to facilitate multi-million dollar export trade in Halal food. Nestlé reported its global Halal product sales generated revenues in excess of $5billion back in 20082, confirming the view that paying attention to this market makes good business sense. In the USA, the picture is somewhat different. While the established pioneers of America’s Halal sector – Midamar, IFANCA, Crescent Foods – have continued to grow, the scale and strength of the Halal industry still has a long way to go to reach its full potential. To achieve this, it will need to overcome several hurdles, each of which should really be viewed as an opportunity for expansion.

“ ”

To the Left – room for improvement At Home

The extent of the opportunity that the Halal sector represents for the American economy is still greatly under-rated. The American Muslim community has higher than average disposable income, and yet remains an under-served market demographic. Look at the figures3…This is a community of 6.7 million with a spending power of $124billion; 88% buy Halal food; 81% want easier access to Halal 2 ~ Islamic Marketing and Branding, Paul Temporal, 2012 3 ~ American Muslim Market, Business Landscape and Consumer Needs, DinarStandard, 2012

foods; 80% feel mainstream companies could do more to serve their needs. Estimated annual expenditure on food and food services is $13billion. In other words, here is an opportunity. Comparisons have been made between the emergence and growth of both the African American and Hispanic communities in the USA. At the American Muslim Consumer Conference in recent years, there has been a general consensus, including opinion from heavyweights such as Costco, Walmart, BestBuy and Ogilvy Mather, that the domestic Muslim demographic would follow a similar pattern of growth to become a recognised niche market in the USA. The African American market saw 166% growth between 1990 and 2007, with buying power going from $318billion to $845billion. Over the same period, the domestic Hispanic market grew by 297%, from $212billion up to $828billion. Both are now in the trillion dollar range.4 With almost 40% of the US Muslim population between the ages of 18-40, their market impact over the coming decade is likely to follow a similar, and possible even more impressive growth curve.

Twenty years ago, many companies failed to see the potential in these markets. How many are now failing to see the same growth potential in this “large, undervalued but increasingly important market?” to quote Miles Young, the CEO of Ogilvy Mather.

Overseas Looking beyond the shores of the USA, there is an emerging picture of a global Muslim middle class who are young, influential and engaged, who “consume Islam as much as practising it, demanding the same sorts of life-enhancing goods and services as middle classes everywhere. Their preference for goods that have an Islamic flavour makes Islam big business.”5 Looking at export potential in the Halal food sector, there is clearly massive scope to increase revenue…if some changes are made. The structured models used in Australia and New Zealand’s Halal industries serve up a valuable lesson, indicating why their beef and lamb has such a high profile in the Muslim world: they pay serious attention to Halal as an industry and in doing so have created a country brand. They have developed an integrated Halal supplychain, and this brings a clear competitive advantage. The key to their success What would it take to lies in the collaborative have a US equivalent? relationship between the farmers and processors, the government agencies and the Islamic certification bodies. Through this collaboration over the last decade, Australia has developed a comprehensive programme that culminated in the Australian Government Authorised Halal Programme (AGAHP). Rogue certifiers have been virtually eliminated and the farming community understands both the ethical and financial values of Halal. The government agencies have managed the health, safety and quality assurance components by producing clear standards and guidelines, in addition to pumping government funds into the 4 ~ Multicultural Economy Report, Selig Centre, 2007 5 ~ Meccanomics, Vali Nasr, Oneworld Publications, 2009

6 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

export promotion of a world class Halal product. So while the USA may enjoy meat and poultry exports to the GCC region, the region’s increasing awareness of Halal compliance, and focus on food safety, means that US Halal procedures are going to come under increasingly stringent scrutiny in the future. And in this respect, the USA falls far short of other competitors, and would do well to learn some lessons from the likes of Australia.

There are certain essentials for long-term success in the Halal export market: • A well-defined and visible policy vis-à-vis the Halal market, both domestic and overseas • Clear standards and guidelines for Halal food production, from farm to fork • Effective mechanisms for working with the Islamic bodies that oversee Halal compliance The key to bringing about these changes in the US hinges on a shift in perception. The recognition of the value of products and services aimed at the growing Muslim market will trigger change.

The danger is that the longer the Halal sector is not taken seriously within the US, the longer the catch-up period will be. Market competitors in the red meat, poultry, dairy, healthcare and travel industries have already been given a massive head start to develop their own Halal market strategies. Companies in the US have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and successes of others, but it will need an integrated and collaborative effort to turn this into a competitive advantage of their own. It has been demonstrated time and again that the development of standards and best practices act as catalysts to stimulate an industry. The longer the American Halal sector stays below the radar, the slower the progress will be. Until the specifics of Halal compliance are as detailed and transparent as the other quality and safety parameters of the food industry, it will remain slightly in the shadows.

this is not just business, this is also a mission

” To the right – opportunity for growth

Among US consumers, and among the small independent Halal producers and other industry insiders, there is a perennial sense of not just optimism, but also passion. There is a tangible notion that this is not just business, this is also a mission; and this is a quality of great value, especially in these turbulent times. The sense of optimism would seem to be justified. We have noted in the past that Halal is capable of multi-directional

expansion, i.e. going up-market and mainstream at the same time, and we can see that this is happening now in the US. Walmart’s recognition of the growing importance of Halal food led them to Crescent Foods of Chicago in 2008, and they started to stock Crescent chicken products in five outlets in the Michigan area. Four years further on, and there are now 77 outlets across 11 states offering Crescent Halal chicken products. These are not cheap commodity chicken products, they are high-end premium quality, and are among the best and most expensive chickens in the country. And you cannot get more mainstream than Walmart. Saffron Road opened a new dimension in the Halal market by supplying their frozen entrees to Whole Foods. Their Ramadan campaign in 2011 generated a 300% increase in sales, and went on to win the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Award in the Digital & Media category. Their campaign in 2012 for their entry into Costco stores in the Western United States involved photographer/film-maker Mustafa Davis and community activist Imam Dawud Yasin, joining their promotional Club Halal Tour to four cities, again breaking out of the mold of traditional Halal product promotions.

we have still not told the full story about Halal

” Iowa-based Midamar, one of the country’s most recognised Halal brands, continues to expand both its product ranges and its international presence with an office in Dubai. From humble beginnings over 35 years ago, Midamar now export products to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, as well as offering a range of export, franchise and consulting services. IFANCA, the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of North America has established a worldwide reputation as a certification agency, and their ‘crescent M’ logo is now recognised in most countries around the world. Major household brands such as Nestlé, Baskin Robbins, Tate & Lyle, McCain and Tom’s of Maine are among IFANCA’s clients, and their annual conference brings together representatives from some of the world’s largest corporations. All of these individual achievements indicate the current strength of the US Halal industry, and there is undoubtedly potential to make the US a major player on the global Halal market stage. That step will require a new level of collaboration.

And what lies ahead?

In our view there is a whole chapter of new success stories waiting to happen for the American Halal market sector, both at home and overseas, for companies both large and small. There are three keys to unlocking this door. | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 7

at the office


collaboration humane


packaging street-food

accreditation research airlines exports supply investment logistics values upmarket cafés standards ethics HALAL restaurants consumer mainstream preference hotels leadership influence colleges prisons schools quality safety demand


at the airport

in school


on the train

on the boat

pharmaceuticals at home

fine dining in the car



with strangers

on the plane

on the bus

on the road

in the yard

on the sofa

with friends






with the family

Standards and Accreditation. Taking Halal to the next level will require the application of clear standards for all aspects of Halal food production. This means that standards will have to be drafted, discussed, agreed upon and recognised by representatives of all affected sectors, and then they will have to be applied in the workplace. Adherence to these standards will need to be overseen by certifying bodies that must also be accredited by some form of recognised authority. Given that the US administration cannot undertake this task as a government organisation, it will require an evolutionary step in leadership from among the Muslim community to coordinate this project.

it will require an evolutionary step in leadership

” There are clear examples of how to do this, so while this may seem like a huge task, examples from overseas, such as Australia and New Zealand, or closer to home with bodies like the Organic Trade Association actually offer a step-by-step roadmap that can be used for this journey.

Promotional campaign

There is a disconcerting degree of ignorance and misinformation on the subject of Halal in the Western world.


There are obvious political sensibilities in the USA, and anything related to Islam inevitably gets seen in the shadow of 9/11 and US foreign policy. However, the issue of Halal has a distinct advantage in that it is already a multi-cultural and multi-religious phenomenon, with so many non-Muslims involved in the global Halal food supplychain. We have still not told the full story about Halal - in terms of safety, quality, concern for the environment, animal welfare and human health. This is not just about food for the Muslims, this is about food for mankind. Halal produce should be the best there is available in terms of ethical businesses producing the highest quality nutrition for our minds, bodies and spirits. A generic promotional campaign for Halal would go a long way to change public opinion about Halal, similar to the way the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign promoted milk to the benefit of an entire industry.

The convergence of Halal foods and Islamic finance is now being seen as inevitable, but it needs a push from both sides. There tends to be excess liquidity in the Islamic finance sector, and the stated aim of the thought leaders is that Islamic finance needs to have more impact in the ‘real economy.’ With the growing awareness among consumers, and the growing number of companies looking to expand into the Halal sector, there is an increasing range of investment opportunities for Shariah-compliant funds. An initiative such as the SAMI Halal Index created by IdealRatings of California in collaboration with Thompson Reuters, is a good indication of things to come. There is still a gap between these two Shariah-compliant industries, but there are many signs that the gap is closing, and this convergence will no doubt give rise to a whole new spectrum of possibilities for both industries. The US Halal food sector needs Shariah-compliant investment in order to develop, and to meet the growing demand. We need more dedicated Halal abattoirs, processing facilities, distribution networks, more trained personnel and better marketing campaigns. The food market is non-cyclical; people eat everyday…at home, at work, and relaxing. What better way to engage with the real economy than with the business of meeting people’s everyday needs. Within the landscape of American life, the Muslim community has so much to bring to the table....expertise, experience, knowledge and skills. It is a communty on a straight path, calling to the good, preventing harm, an influential resource in the task of building a brighter future for America. In all of this, the Halal sector has an important role to play; it is a middle ground that gathers together common beneficial interests. Today, the Halal sector is like a young adult, full of energy and eager for new opportunity, and now mature enough to take on the responsibilities that accompany the coming of age.

8 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Exporting Halal Opportunity & Responsibility


By Sara Sayed

S companies are now starting to take notice of the monumental opportunities to expand their markets to the Middle East and South East Asia.

This is partially due to a recent interest in emerging economies by marketing firms, and the resulting market research. The research showing growing economies with large populations demanding higher-end US products has stimulated interest in market expansion to these regions. According to David Smith, in his study “Global Futures and Foresights, Major Market Trends of 2011”, Muslims represent 23% of the global population today, and this figure will increase to 26% by 2030. Currently, Muslims account for 2.7 trillion dollars in global trade, and conservative estimates expect this figure to triple by 2030. In the Middle East, for example, Midamar has witnessed exponential growth in the market for Halal foods over the past 40 years – particularly in the past decade. Increasing population growth, migration and the development of the food services sectors in Arabian Gulf countries have led to a demand for high-end USDA approved Halal protein products. To quote from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Gain report on the retail sector in the UAE: “The UAE enjoys a modern, diverse and growing retail

food sector. The emergence of hypermarkets in recent years has led to a number of new players in the large store market. An estimated 90 percent of food is imported and prices are relatively high given transportation costs and exchange rate fluctuations. After several years of rapid growth, retail food sales slowed during the early part of 2009 as global economic conditions worsened, but many retailers report that sales have begun to rebound. In the absence of official data, major retailers estimate the annual value of the UAE retail market at $5 billion and the expected annual growth in retail sales at 10-15 percent.” The same statement, with minor modifications could apply to other GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. For years, popular American based dining establishments have been locating in Middle Eastern countries with great success. As a result, Middle Easterners began to develop a taste for US beef cuts of all grades as well as turkey, deli meats and more. Midamar began exporting Halal foods to the Middle East and South East Asia in 1974, and is the first food company in the USA to coordinate with USDA in the development of Halal standards and processes in USDA inspected and approved processing facilities. Since then, Midamar has become a globally recognized Halal Brand and leading exporter of USA produced Halal protein products. Relative to European countries, the USA is still more insulated from the global economy. However, exporting has become an increasingly important driver of job creation and | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 9

better paying jobs. US Commerce Department Statistics show that exports represent about 11 percent of US GDP but they account for over 35% of economic growth. Approximately 12 million American jobs depend on international trade and export expansion. This number is increasing annually. According to the official Whitehouse site, www., in 2010 the Obama Administration launched the National Export Initiative, whereby the President set the ambitious goal of doubling US exports while supporting millions of new jobs over five years. Exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 16.3% when compared with 2009, a pace greater than the 15% required to double exports by the end of 2014. The Administration’s goal is to ensure US businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers are able to compete and win in world markets where intellectual property is protected, where agricultural and industrial standards are based on science, and where transparent rules and regulations enhance export development. This has created a supportive environment for US businesses to pursue international trade opportunities. As markets grow and develop, so do consumer tastes and preferences, this is particularly true of the food and hospitality markets. Most recently, consumers world-wide have been demanding a more stringent degree of Halal oversight, as well as confirmation that animals are raised and harvested humanely. “Midamar is a Halal food company…we see ourselves as more than a company that has recently decided to sell Halal food in pursuit of rapidly expanding market opportunities,” explains Jalel Aossey. “Over the years we have supplied

protein products to Middle Eastern and South East Asian markets and have needed to adjust to the growth and development of these markets.” Along with the opportunities, there are risks and complexities when engaging in international trade, particularly in the food export sector. This can be seen in the recent ban on US Beef products by the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). The ban is a result of a case of ‘Mad Cow’ disease found in California. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the SFDA has indicated its willingness to lift the temporary ban on US beef and beef products in accordance with its standard procedure for lifting bans imposed on imports of meat and meat products. The standard procedure includes sending SFDA food safety experts to the US to inspect and approve US beef producing facilities that will be allowed to export beef to Saudi Arabia “Of course Midamar has been affected by the SFDA temporary ban on US beef. Exporting frozen beef products is very capital intensive and there is an element of risk that unfortunately plays out in these circumstances. That being said, the SFDA will conduct an investigation that will take some time. Once the Saudi authorities have completed their research and their confidence in the quality and safety of US beef products is restored, Midamar will be ready to resume supply of premium quality Midwestern Halal beef products to Saudi Arabia. ” explained Aossey. When exporting abroad, companies must account for risk in the political and economic environment of each market. There are variables that companies have no control over, like for example currency issues, domestic unrest, political relations and unforeseen events. “Halal food companies in the USA must be vigilant in setting standards that minimize risk to the food supply. Rather than rely on regulators, as an industry we need to ensure that the food supply chain is healthy in order to prevent problems before they arise,” added Aossey. One way to ensure a healthy and stable food supply is to adhere to Islamic principles in everyday business operations. This includes, raising animals in humane environments, transporting animals humanely, properly restraining animals, and harvesting by trained Muslim slaughter-men using sharp tools. The best research to date on humane slaughter has been done by Temple Grandin, a renowned animal rights scholar in the USA.

It is not enough to wait for regulators to enforce rules

10 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

On her website,, Dr. Grandin summarizes several decades of research. She states that there is very little difference between Halal and Kosher slaughter techniques. In any country there needs to be awareness of humane techniques and willingness on the part of those who perform the slaughter to adopt humane practices, and to hone the skills of their craft. There also needs to be some oversight by governmental and non-governmental organizations. You may find inhumane practices by some Muslim slaughter men in developing countries - it is very likely that slaughter men of other faiths are also adopting inhumane practices due to a lack of education and oversight in the same countries. Similarly in the USA, Temple

It is up to Halal food producers to set the standards

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Grandin’s research shows that 50% of (non Muslim) slaughterhouses still have what she considers “inhumane practices”. In the course of her research with cattle, Dr Grandin has observed that if the handling and restraining are carried out according to her guidelines, calm animals show “little or no reaction to the throat cut… it appears that the animal is not aware that its throat has been cut.” The Halal industry could be at the forefront of the animal welfare movement, setting new benchmarks for responsible and considerate treatment of animals, and further enhancing the value of Halal produce. “Humane treatment of animals is not only good for the animals, but for the health of the entire food supply. It leads to healthier animals and better quality meat and poultry. And it is an integral part of the Halal food supply. By adhering to Halal standards, we as an industry can do our part to ensure that protein products are safe and healthy to consume,” added Aossey. While there are tremendous opportunities for growth in international Halal markets, consumers and governments are becoming more conscious and aware of how processes affect the health and welfare of animals and the people who consume protein products. The Halal industry must set the standard for producing the highest quality and safest protein products available. It is not enough to wait for regulators to enforce rules. It is up to Halal food producers to set the standards. When people want to find the best Halal food, they turn to zabihah, the world’s original and most comprehensive Halal food guide. Started in 1998 in Silicon Valley, we have grown into a network of over 20,000 Halal restaurants and markets with over 50,000 user reviews. Each year, 10 million professional, upwardly mobile users use our website and mobile apps to find the best Halal food nearby. Visit us at, @zabihah on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Your guide to the best Halal food in the world

8/18/12 9:10:48 am | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 11


Organic, All-Natural Cosmetics May Not Mean Halal Cosmetics E

ver wonder about the ingredients in all of the moisturizers, powders, foundations, and eye makeup that millions of women use every day? Oil-free, talc-free, and perfume-free are common tactics used in the cosmetic industry in order to market a product that the consumer feels is safe for their skin and better than those “other” brands that don’t claim the same benefits. While the consumer is convinced that the product may be good for them based on the absence of oils and perfumes, what they don’t consider is the origin of the remaining ingredients that produce their favorite mascara or eye shadow. The ingredients in lipstick may seem harmless; some sort of Vaseline or waxy substance mixed with a few drops of dye, but where are these ingredients sourced? The fact is, many of the makeup products Muslim women use contain alcohol and ingredients derived from animals, namely pork or even human placenta. Some may also contain ingredients derived from cows which were not slaughtered in a Halal manner; including brains, spinal cord tissue, and tallow (fat). Muslim consumers who practice only purchasing Halal products should be aware of these ingredients that are used in the cosmetic industry. Reading labels and familiarizing oneself with non-Halal ingredient names is the first step in identifying what is permissible to use. When asked what the most important aspect of Halal cosmetics is that Muslim consumers should be aware of, Layla Mandi, CEO and Founder of OnePure, a luxury Halal cosmetics line, stated, “Make sure the ingredients in your skincare products are of a Halal source. For example: collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and steric acid are a few ingredients to watch out for. Also, we must treat our skin from the inside out, eat a diet rich in essential fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene.  Some ideas may include: dark chocolate, salmon, fatty fish, oranges, mango, and carrots.”  

“…many of the makeup products Muslim women use contain alcohol and ingredients derived from animals, namely pork or even human placenta.” Companies have begun using alternative names for animal products in their ingredient labels so as not to deter consumers from purchasing a product containing animal byproducts. If a label lists anything with the words, animal, collagen, hyaluronic acid, stearic acid, carminic acid, or tallow, look for a Halal seal on the packaging. Manufacturers are not required to list the source of origin for any ingredient on the label so if an ingredient seems questionable, contact the manufacturer for clarification. Alcohols, such as SD alcohol, ethanol, ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol are also present in many cosmetic formulas. Products with alcohol may be considered Halal, depending on the level of alcohol present in the product. Again, contact the manufacturer for clarification or a reputable Halal certifier. Over the last 10 years, the demand for Halal cosmetics has increased. Mandi said, “When I was living in Marrakech in 2006 and I started working on OnePure there were absolutely no other Halal cosmetics companies on the market! Today there are a few companies that produce Halal products but sadly OnePure is still alone in the luxury sector.” Searching out Halal certified cosmetics is not easily accomplished. Consumers can do their part in making Halal certified products more

readily available by contacting companies that produce their favorite cosmetics and requesting that products be certified Halal or contain non-animal derived ingredients (i.e. synthetic or plant-based). Always look for the Islamic Services of America (I.S.A.) seal to ensure the products you use are certified to meet the requirements of Halal. Halal isn’t just about what we eat; Halal is a complete lifestyle. Mandi states “Using Halal skincare products is very important. The skin is the largest organ and absorbs almost everything you put on it! Skincare has been around for a very long time some say because we know that how we treat our skin is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.” For more information about Halal cosmetics and other Halal products please visit

About Islamic Services of America (I.S.A.)

I.S.A. plays a large role in the Halal industry both as an educator and a certifier. I.S.A. partners with companies that specialize in manufacturing all different types of food products and grants Halal certification for those products that are found to be Halal compliant. I.S.A. follows the Halal certification rules and regulations that are monitored and enforced by the Halal governing authorities in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., G.C.C., Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore and is a founding member of the World Halal Food Council. A detailed analysis and qualification of all products and their ingredients, as well as, an inspection of the manufacturing facility are all part of the Halal certification process which helps ensure the product is qualified as Halal and fit for Muslim consumption in accordance with Islamic law. I.S.A. is a resource for the public, including both the consumer and the producer, and can address any questions regarding Halal.

12 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Jennine M. Seede Halal Services Manager Islamic Services of America (I.S.A.) (319) 362-0480


Second Generation American Muslim

By Rafi-uddin Shikoh DinarStandard

While moderating a recent focus group with young American Muslims, I was stumped when one of the participants said, “the website was ‘mad’ outdated,” followed by, “man, their app though, was sick, yo.” Mad? Sick? Yo? What? Ok, admittedly I am falling into the ‘uncle’ generation as I enter my 40’s, but as a marketing professional I have always tried being on top of the latest lingo and being in the know. Besides, even as an immigrant, I have spent more than 22 years in America experiencing college dorm life, football games, apple pies, Thanksgivings and ‘all’--- from Minnesota to Charlotte, NC, to Boston to New York, and professionally driven by innovation, marketing and technology savviness. Regardless, it seems a generational shift amongst American Muslims is now widening the gap. A gap not just limited to language differences, but in behavior,


preferences, priorities and approach to all aspects of their lives. These distinct attributes have strong implications on the work I do advising various Muslim audience related organizations and that’s why I am writing this article. Through our growth strategy advisory work at DinarStandard, I have had the privilege of engaging with a variety of segments of the American

distinctively American in their outlook and approach

Muslim community that include Community centers, Islamic schools and Masajids to Halal food companies, Muslim owned law firms or retailers and other businesses. Our nationwide study on American Muslim Consumers last year also provided great insights on the Community. In all of this work, one of the common themes emerging is the growing role of the second generation American Muslims in managing and/or being consumers of these services and

their own expectations and behaviors as distinct from the first generation immigrant American Muslims.

Why should you care?

Today the majority of American Muslims are first generation immigrants (63% according to 2011 Pew Research Center Study) who essentially hold most of the leadership positions in various Muslim related organizations. However, this is fast changing as the second and third generations are growing up from the sizeable young population of Muslims. Similar to a youth bulge in Arab countries, Muslims in America are also disproportionately young. Compared to the US average of 22% who are in the 18-29 age group, the American Muslim population is 36%, according to the Pew Research 2011 American Muslim report. Gallup’s 2009 study confirmed a similar breakdown. So as this second generation comes forward, while they may be maintaining or having an even stronger Islamic identity, they are also distinctively American in their outlook and approach, with much fewer affiliations and habits from their earlier | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 13

Immigrant genera+on  stages  impact  on  consump+on  habits      

(i.e. types  of    retail  choices,  media/  recrea<on,  organiza<ons/events,  mosques/centers)   ETHNIC AMERICAN




First Generation Immigrants

Second/ Third Generation Immigrants

Muslim Americans: A National Portrait Organiza<ons/ Events  

© DinarStandard,  2012  

Retail Choices  

Media/ Recrea<on  

Mosques/ Centers  

Equally important is their generations host country influences Muslim identity (example: Wellspring (such as Pakistan, Egypt or elsewhere). involvement in leadership roles and Elementary, NY) As an example, the first generation their distinct styles compared to first• Halal Food & Restaurants: Age generation immigrants. would subscribe to their original While traditional Pakistani/Arab Of the majormedia faith groups, Muslim Americans haveWe the highest of young adults in the 18are tomainstay 29 age range. More are seeingproportion more and more country (Urdu, Arabic language restaurants of first-gen signs of how the second generation newspapers, cable TV, etc.) or eat Muslims, a more American set of than a third of Muslims (36%), versus 9% of Protestants and about 20% of members of other faiths, are between the ages of more traditional foods. The second American-Muslims are evolving the choices are growing – (e.g. Douglas 18 and 29. In the 18% in this of ageinstitution group. generation is general far morepopulation, American in all of Americans nature andare approach Pizza; and Famous Burgers) its consumption habits – from following building started by the first generation: • Community Centers: Centers Muslims have the highest ribs proportion of individuals in the schools: 30-to-44The agefirst cohort, at 37%. As points comparison, 19% of • Islamic ESPNalso to eating barbecued – as for Muslims areof increasingly seeing wave of overall Islamic are Private Schools long as they Halal. Implications in leadership from the Protestants, 28% are of Catholics, and 26% are of Americans between the used ages of 30participation and 44. traditional methods and approaches, across all segments of consumption second generation who are approaching while now a new generation of schools these non-profits in a much more that include Figure 2 media, travel, food, are evolving a distinctly American communication and more. professional, inclusive, American and % Muslims

% Protestants

Muslim Americans are young % Catholics

% Mormons

% Jews

% U.S. general population

50% 42%





28% 29%

30% 23%

20% 10%






32% 26%


38% 31% 24%


18% 16%



0% 18 to 29

30 to 44

The sample size of Muslims aged 65 and older is too small to report the results.

Please tell me your|age. 14 • HALALconnect September 2012 |

45 to 64

65 and older From ‘Muslim Americans - A National Portrait’

disciplined manner (e.g. ADAMS Center in VA). • Media: The first generation are still seeing their language or ethnic based broadcasts, print or digital media, whereas the second generation is more engaged with indigenous Muslim media. (e.g. My Halal Kitchen, Elan, Azizah, • Organizations: A nextgeneration of services is beginning to emerge led by the second generation of American Muslim. (e.g.; Islamic Theme Tours; MUPPIES; IMANA)

Understanding Second Generation American Muslim Millennials

In the national American wide demographic categorization, most of the second generation American Muslims would be considered “Millennials.” Generally, Millennials represent beginning birth dates ranging somewhere from the late ‘70s or the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Below are a set of ten core values of the broader American Millennials that shape their perspective (source: BrandAmplitude ). It seems these values apply closely to the second generation American Muslim Millennials too: 1. Timeliness: Instant gratification is a key attribute. They want everything ‘now’. 2. Making a difference: “From volunteering in soup kitchens to joining the Peace Corps, Millennials have an unprecedented desire to ‘give back’ to their communities in ways large and small.” 3. Tolerance: “As the most ethnically diverse generation of adults yet, Millennials have an engrained sense that a diverse range of ethnicities, religions, cultures and lifestyles should not only be tolerated, but in fact embraced.” 4. Environmental stewardship: A driving force today in environmentalism. 5. Authenticity: “With important implications for marketers and advertisers, Millennials crave plain and honest truths. From job performance reviews to television commercials, they want a message that is genuine,

truthful, and straightforward, and are likely to reject anything that appears sugarcoated or otherwise less than forthcoming.” 6. Family: “Millennials are more likely to respect and value parental opinions well after they have physically ‘left the nest’.” 7. Global perspective: “Have a more global viewpoint than their predecessors.” 8. Technology: “Grew up with the internet and technology.” 9. Personal freedom: “Millennials have all but rejected the notion that life is a ‘track’ to be followed from milestone to milestone. The ‘career’ is no longer the context for important life decisions, and many respondents hold ‘making a difference’ with as high a regard as ‘personal success’, and are willing to take any path available to strike this balance.” 10. Team work: “Millennials are team oriented and like to work with those that share their values (ex: tolerance, authenticity, timeliness).” While many of the above attributes can be argued against, I do see many similarities. If you are a traditional Halal grocery store or restaurant, the future is in addressing the more American tastes of this next generation. If you are a Muslim organization being run mostly by first generation, it’s important to understand the dynamics, expectations and style of this next generation as they are your future. For such organizations, Brand Amplitude sums up well what you need to do to attract top Millennial workers to your organization: the key---create a ‘chill’ culture. And if you want to see a flavor of this chill Muslim culture, checkout, a blog by a bonafide American Muslim millennial, Saad Ahmad Rashad.

Rafi-uddin Shikoh is the CEO & Managing Director, DinarStandard – Growth Strategies for Muslim Markets | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 15

new business initiatives

Takin’ It To The Streets! By Ibrahim Abed & Kiran Ansari

Food trucks and food carts have always been a part of everyone’s memory growing up, and people in Chicago seem to be missing authentic street food. Well, it looks like it is making a comeback! Children playing outdoors in the summer chasing after the music of an ice cream truck, factory workers rushing to get in line at the food truck, and the mouthwatering corn that was served from street carts on the corner. This is what street food was all about. During the last decade, street food vendor licensing has been cut down in most major cities due to the heavy politics played by restaurant owners lobbying that street food vendors have impacted their bricks and mortar locations. Given the increase in food costs and overheads that restaurants incur, it just isn’t feasible for many chefs, who have the passion to take their unique cuisine to the streets of their hometowns, to open their own restaurant. So for many of them, the best option is to take their cuisine to the streets. Chicago was one of the hardest hit cities when it came down to licensing and regulations. Unlike New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and other major cities across the country, Chicago does not allow food trucks to cook or serve anything that is not prepackaged and labeled. They also impose a 200ft rule that does not allow trucks to stop at any location that is within 200ft of a food establishment or even park at any location for longer than 2 hours. With such tough regulations, street food vendors rallied together along with their fans to lobby the city to loosen up a bit on these laws. After a few city hall

16 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

meetings and campaigns, the city has promised that there are discussions in the works to allow food trucks to prepare and cook food inside the truck.

Falafel Brothers is a fresh and new concept to street food vending. Falafel Brothers is a food truck and catering operation allowing people to enjoy flavorful Middle Eastern dishes, ranging from falafel, savory (spicy) falafel, chicken shawerma, lamb kabobs, tabouleh, hummus, and all the extras that make enjoying Middle Eastern food that much better. People can also rent the food truck to be at their next party or gathering or request the truck to stop by their job site and serve. Nearing its first year anniversary, Falafel Brothers has seen a huge demand and along with the falafel, you can also smell the sweet aroma of success. Check them out on http://www.

,,,,, Directly interacting with the end consumer is something not many businesses can do. In most cases, wholesalers and retailers act as middlemen. In most cases. Not when it comes to delivering zabihah Halal meat to customers all across Chicago. Taaza2U has revolutionized how consumers order Halal meat – and some ethnic groceries too. They don’t have to drive to a Halal butcher shop as they can conveniently order the meat online or over the phone and have it delivered free* to their doorstep. And that’s not all. The meat comes from a USDA

approved facility and is neatly packaged and labeled so all you have to do is cook it right away or put it in the freezer. No car required. The truck in which the meat is delivered has been getting rave reviews when customers see the Taaza Truck cruising on streets. Parents are amazed as their children point like they would to an ice cream truck. “We have had amazingly positive reactions to our branded trucks,” said

Ahmed Irfan Khan, CEO of Barkaat Foods, the parent company of Taaza2U. “I had always been fascinated with the last-mile-supply chain that I studied at business school and wanted to launch a business which would interact directly with customers.” The truck is very hard to miss. They could have gone with a window decal on a plain truck, but the wrap-around branding in colors that reflect the fresh and natural image associated with the

company has become a huge hit. All the trucks are equipped with refrigerators that enable them to maintain safe handling temperatures for the meat. When the company started, consumers could plug in their zip code to see what day Taaza2U would deliver in their area. Not anymore. Most orders are delivered the very next day so that if you run out of marinated chicken drumsticks and have last minute guests coming over tomorrow, Taaza2U has your back. The latest innovation with the Taaza2u trucks is the option to book a truck to come and grill at your party. The trucks come with grills alongside the refrigerators so that you can sit back and relax and have your guests enjoy fresh BBQ on your turf. Taaza2U would love to be able to sell zabihah Halal food in downtown Chicago from Halal carts like New York City, but the city still hasn’t approved this for any vendors, so far. When they do, Taaza2U will be one of the first in line. *free delivery on orders over $60 at

• Enteric coated omega-3 fish oil

• Multivitamin with more vitamin D3 • High quality • Made in USA • Halal Certified | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 17

What are we really eating?


ong ago, the thought of eggs coming from chickens fed on feed consisting of dead animal waste was abhorrent to people; yet over time this revelation has been overlooked, and now this is the normal way of feeding conventionally farmed chickens. Feeding miscellaneous byproduct ingredients and additives to poultry, lamb and cattle is in fact now commonplace, and can happen unknowingly through the animal protein added to their feed. Mass production of animal protein products requires awareness, vigilance, and the necessary steps to curtail potential food safety issues and unethical practices. Agribusiness is a powerful force, and short cuts to boost profits without the concern for the consequences to the consumer are all too tempting. In 2011, a study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a growth-promoting ingredient in some chicken feeds called Roxarsone that contained arsenic. Higher levels of carcinogenic arsenic were found in the meat of the birds fed this ingredient than those not fed the chemical. Though Pfizer, which makes the ingredient, pulled it off the shelves in the US, they did not stop selling it elsewhere. Arsenic has long been used in chickens to kill parasites, but now they realize the potential danger of cancer in humans by doing so. Johns Hopkins researchers were surprised to find FDA-banned antibiotics in chicken feather meal that can have a negative impact on human health from antibiotic resistance. They also discovered traces of other types of drugs, personal care products and arsenic. Feather meal is used not only as part of animal feed, but is also a byproduct used in some poultry ‘meat’ products.

By Susan Labadi

Profit-driven business practices can threaten our health and the sanctity of our consumables. We all need to eat in order to live, and we hope to be healthy through what we eat, but how do we really know what we are eating?

Are we naïve to believe that companies do not do the unthinkable in the interest of profit? Muckracker Upton Sinclair chronicled horrific practices of the Chicago meatpacking industry in his novel The Jungle that shocked readers with the plight of workers in early 20th century America. Graphic depictions of unhygienic, inhumane practices, and an utter lack of regard for workers and food safety gave impetus to President Theodore Roosevelt to submit the Neill-Reynolds report to Congress. The power of Sinclair’s pen delivered the Meat Inspection Act, Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, and sired the initial organization that evolved into the Food and Drug Administration. In spite of government attempts to protect consumers, an increase in mass production facilities owned by a few large corporate giants with unprecedented financial and political power, are controlling meat and poultry production. One of the best ways to monitor these industries is by being an informed consumer. Among the most vital issues to explore is the question of what is in the feed of the animals we consume. Vegetarian feeds may be comprised of cereal grains, silage, hay, and grasses, but may also be laced with herbicides and pesticides that ultimately are consumed by humans. In the USA, corn and soy are popular feed staples that are mostly genetically modified and heavily subsidized by the

18 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

government. While this may ultimately keep the cost of production down for the consumer, one has to wonder about the long term suitability of this model in terms of economics, land sustainability, and wholesomeness for ecological and human health. To be certified as organic, the USDA stipulates that animals must be raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones or synthetic chemicals while on certified organic feed. But USDA figures indicate that fewer than 3 percent of cows on factory dairy farms, and 2 percent of chickens are raised this way in the USA. The majority of beef, poultry, and dairy producers legally use a variety of other feed supplements to bulk up the fat, weight, and protein in animals on most factory farms. For poultry diets, the USDA do not allow growth hormones. However, animal protein meals are usually defined by the added inputs, and those specifically used might include: meat (no bone) or meat and bone meal (from ruminants and/or swine); blood meal; poultry by-product meal; feather meal; and fish meal. These byproducts are all rendered, which refers to a biosecure process that evaporates water, extracts fat and yields a finished ground product that is high in protein and minerals, which has no resemblance to the raw product. The products are marketed with guarantees as to minimum protein, phosphorus and calcium levels. The majority of food animals in the United States are no longer raised on farms with access to open fields for grazing. Instead they come from crowded animal factories, also known as large confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, manufacturers of feed used in these animal factories can legally include rendered material from road kill, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs. Feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, and intestines can also be found in feed, often under catch-all categories like ‘animal protein products’.

After the 1997 BSE crisis with cattle and cross contamination to humans, largely in the UK, the FDA made their final ruling for regulations on animal feed in 2008 to prohibit the use of certain cattle origin materials in the food or feed of all animals to strengthen existing safeguards against BSE. In the Federal Register scientists believe that the primary route of transmission is through cattle that ingest feed that has been contaminated with meat and bone meal from an infected animal.

We must be reminded that God has made cattle a naturally vegetarian ruminant animal. Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or what was called Mad Cow disease in humans is most likely linked to the consumption of beef products contaminated with the agent from a BSE infected animal. What can motivate such practices? There are over 8 million tons of rendered animal products incorporated into animal feed. With such a high volume of otherwise unusable protein material, companies find ways to utilize what would otherwise be considered waste.

Poultry and meat manufacturers that are looking for quality raw material that has been raised and handled humanely and fed naturally on feed that is not contaminated with additives and by-products, tend to turn to the smaller local farmers, like the Amish, to supply them. But once larger volume is required because of demand, these preferred products are harder to obtain, higher in price and more facilities need to be created to supply them. Our Deen refers to the scales of balance, the Meezan. Current mass food production threatens the fine-tuned harmony designed by our Creator. When we look at traditional farming, we note a symbiotic cycle of renewal and sustainability that is drastically countered by factory farming practices. Small farmers regularly move animals to fresh pastures every few days, and the animals are able to graze and forage among the plants and grasses growing naturally on the ground. This naturally fertilizes the land and recycles the subsequent waste products. These sensible and traditional practices can be operational on a larger scale when small clusters of farms that respect the animals’ natural instincts and behaviors work together with the food manufacturers for mutual benefit. The connection between what we eat, the type of food production we support with our purchasing dollars, and concern for the treatment of what Allah has given to us as provision, testify to the quality of our character and internalization of our Deen. We have a choice. We can change our purchases to Halal, organic or naturally-reared to ensure that the animals we are eating are vegetarianfed, humanely treated, with no antibiotics or hormone-supplemented protein food sources. In doing so, we can increase the demand for these products making them more economically viable and easier to source. | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 19

Islamic Finance in the USA With an estimated population of around eight million, there are more Muslims in the United States than in any of the GCC countries, (other than Saudi Arabia), and more than in any other G-20 country. US Muslims generally have better a education, higher income, greater savings, smaller families, and a higher standard of living than their contemporaries in the UK, Germany, France or Australia.There is good access to Halal food, and an excellent infrastructure of mosques, Islamic centres and schools. So why is there less availability to Islamic Finance? by Rushdi Siddiqui, the Global Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters

Does anyone care?

Firstly, for American Muslims, how relevant is news about Islamic finance development in the Middle East, Malaysia or London? Is it equivalent to reading about the weather in those geographies? Furthermore, how relevant are the current Islamic finance offerings in America, from financing of mortgages to equity funds? Finally, what do the American Muslims really want from Islamic finance? The first generation of immigrants, arriving in the 1960’s, did not come from a home country culture of Islamic finance, so are they really concerned? Every year in the US, tens of billions of Gulf-based dollars go into the financing of warehouses, assisted living institutions and coffee chains, all by way of Islamic financial structures, but this does not impact the lives of the average American Muslim in any way.

portfolio of investments and pension funds. Some American Muslims believe that Islamic finance is nothing more than ‘smoke and mirrors,’ with an Islamic wrapper over a conventional product or with the haram elements removed from the conventional product to make it technically compliant. Others live as much as possible in a cash economy as the present Islamic finance offerings do not pass their test of ‘Islamicity.’ And many American Muslims, let’s be realistic, do not really think about Islamic finance at all.

There is a clear implication here that Islamic finance is not just for Muslims

Many students are seeking Islamic finance solutions, but viable options do not exist for compliant educational loans, while business owners are looking in vain for compliant venture capital, SME or micro-finance funding for seed capital or expansion finance.

Bankable Muslims

Bankable American Muslims no doubt want conventional efficiency with Islamic finance for a comparable bandwidth of New expectations financing and investment offerings that However, a younger generation of provide, at a minimum, conventional American Muslims would probably like to returns for investments or credit pricing for wake up in their Islamically financed house, mortgages. turn on their Shariah-compliant appliances, Thus, institutions like Saturna and drive to work in their Islamically financed Azzad Asset Management provide Islamic vehicle, making a pit-stop at the gas station funds, and Guidance Residential, University to re-fuel with their Islamic charge card with Bank, American Finance House, Devon Bank, Hajj & Umrah mileage points. After work, and others provide financing for homes, cars they can pray at their Islamically financed and other big ticket purchases. mosque before going back home where It is interesting to note that with they can check on their Shariah-compliant

20 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Amana’s Growth and Income Funds (managed by Saturna Capital) with over $3 billion of assets under management, that the majority of their investors are non-Muslims. There is a clear implication here that Islamic finance is not just for Muslims, as investors chasing risk adjusted returns. It may well be that Muslims are more comfortable as risk-averse depositors than risk-taking investors and may not necessarily understand why Microsoft, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, etc., are considered Shariah-compliant companies when they don’t have a Shariah board, pay Zakat, purify impermissible income or have any apparent connection to Islam.

Universal Demands

The demands of American Muslims are probably no different than their overseas counterparts. They want authentic solutions they can relate to, understand and utilize, and which can be explained in simple everyday language in an elevator ride. They also want an input from their Imam, who is probably better known (and more trusted) than the Shariah scholar approving the financial product. A regulator-approved deposit-taking Islamic bank in the US may well be years away, even allowing for the possibility of the acquisition of a failing institution and converting it to an Islamic bank. So the question becomes, ‘what to do in the interim?’ Doing nothing is not really an acceptable option, as it surrenders the financial destiny of American Muslims to the fickle weather-vane of American politics.

Hajj Fund

The US regulators, like the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have already approved Islamic Funds and Islamic Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). They therefore have an understanding of Shariah

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screening, and the role of Shariah boards. Thus, a more demand-based, and lower hanging fruit may well be a ‘Hajj Fund,’ modelled along the lines of Malaysia’s Tabung Haji. Obviously, there are a number of issues to grapple with, such as diversified asset class exposure, access to Sukuk, or the Islamic money market, but the journey has to start somewhere. So why not start with an in-depth examination of Tabung Haji, with accompanying feasibility studies and market surveys? The Hajj is by now an expensive undertaking –and rising– and it needs to be approached methodically as part of a compliant financial planning programme.

between VC funding and Islamic finance in all the Islamic financial hubs of the world. However, the American Muslims are uniquely positioned to lead the Muslim world on Islamic VC as the foundational infrastructure, as well as the inherent culture, already exists in the US. We can have Muslim angel investors, venture capitalists and investment bankers, Muslim entrepreneurs, Muslim university professors all linked to VC, and almost all forms of VC funding are considered Shariahcompliant. Indeed, it must be noted that there are non-Muslims who espouse the essence of the ethics associated with Islamic finance and VC and are ready to support and lead

India and America

India, the world’s largest democracy with the second largest population of Muslims after Indonesia, and the USA, still the world’s largest economy and military super-power, both have something in common concerning Islamic finance. They both seem to hold a similar mixture of views such as: 1) issues surrounding the separation between religion and the State; 2) fear of the back-door creep of Shariah into the country that might erode established constitutional norms; and 3) financing extremism, and so on. One is reminded of the famous inaugural quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ The commonly heard arguments for Islamic finance in India and US include nonMuslim countries declaring themselves as Islamic finance hubs (such as the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong), high profile western financial institutions involved in Islamic finance (such as Citibank, Ernst & Young, Clifford Chance and Morgan Stanley), or western corporations, like General Electric, raising money via Sukuk, etc. However, while interesting, these activities do not seem to be persuasive for the politicians and regulators concerned, so it seems we still need to go back to the drawing board.


Connecting to business

In addition, it would be interesting to have some US-based Islamic financial institutions to sponsor programs like the equivalent of Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank, where aspiring entrepreneurs, such as Halal industry SMEs, can submit their ideas for funding. To some this might be partly a form of philanthropy, capital market style, and to others a slightly cheesy imitation of western TV programs, but it would be an interesting exercise to let the market decide by the subsequent investment successes or the TV ratings. Venture capital (VC) partnership financing is an excellent application of Islamic financial principles, where a company has not been tainted by conventional debt, non-operating interest income, and so on. Unfortunately, to date there is a disconnect the size of the Grand Canyon

this type of initiative. Obviously, the projects to be financed must be viable, demand-based and profitable. We need to approach this like capitalists but still act like missionaries. We would do well to look at some of the challenges and opportunities in the Muslim world: from obesity and diabeties in the GCC to alternative energy in SE Asia or healthcare in Africa. Where there is a problem, there is usually a viable business waiting to solve it. Thus, the US could actually become a hub for Islamic VC initiatives, and the benefits are many, such as: 1) educating and eradicating myths; 2) financial inclusion, as fund-raising activities could include crowd-funding approaches; 3) an attempt to address issues, such as technology transfer, in the Muslim world; and 4) establish a better foundation for US Islamic banking activities.

22 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

Today, many American Muslims are encountering recurring bouts of ‘donor fatigue’ induced by the seemingly endless rounds of fundraising by domestic and foreign Islamic organisations. Communitybased initiatives in our capital constrained economic climate are equally strained. Our domestic challenges need homegrown solutions; overseas money has for too long just been providing ‘fish’, whereas what we really need is to learn how to fish-farm! The American Muslims have growing social empowerment and increasing political engagement. However, what we really need is sustainable financial empowerment. The few billion dollars of Islamic financial activity, be it mortgages or funds under management, is only a small beginning. The potential is hundreds of billions. Once we can extend the conversation to include other types of funds, from Zakat to Private Equity, from Halal food SME trade financing to compliant education financing, then we can open up a new horizon of activity and empowerment. Money may well be at the root of many evils, but it can also be a muscle with a moral purpose.

Shaping the American Muslim Marketplace Halal Chicken from Crescent Foods is now available at over 70 Walmart Supercenters and Walmart Neighborhood Stores. Frozen Halal meals from Saffron Road are available at Whole Foods stores across America. Supermarket chains PathMark and retail giants Best Buy wish us Eid Mubarak and Ramadan Mubarak in their marketing brochures. One of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest advertising agencies, Ogilvy & Mather, launched Ogilvy Noor offering Islamic Branding services. All these developments have happened over the last four years. When we started to float the concept of the American Muslim Consumer Conference (AMCC) back in 2008 amongst Muslim communities, we would get a blank stare. It was a challenge for us to explain that American Muslims had a buying power which had grown to almost $170 billion and that it was now time to establish a platform

which would create more awareness in the media and mainstream companies. We also felt that we could help to support smaller businesses trying to engage with the needs of the Muslims. We started to craft a vision for AMCC and, after a few rounds of discussions and consultations, the AMCC vision was established: Understand and address the needs of American Muslim consumers and promote businesses and entrepreneurs who are developing products and services for this market. Since its launch in October 2008, there is so much we have learned about this market and now have so much to share. As a common American Muslim consumer, we would have missed out and never have had the opportunity to establish that connection. This connection is between many entrepreneurs and many organizations that have been working to address the unique needs of American Muslims. Organizations like the Muslim Consumer Group that does extensive research to provide information

by Faisal Masood

on whether ingredients used in food products available in supermarkets are Halal or not. Organizations like Halal Advocates of America, Islamic Services of America, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, and Pure Halal Center all provide Halal certification services. Companies like Crescent Foods, Midamar, Saffron Road, and Al Safa are pioneers in manufacturing Halal Food and are working with both neighborhood stores and supermarkets to make their products available nationwide. Although their products are not yet available in all supermarkets, in the last three to four years much progress has been made. Walking through the aisles of many supermarket chains, the word Halal is no longer a strange sight. Young entrepreneurial companies have also emerged like Noor Kids who are developing products for children which make Islamic education fun and exciting, Noor Vitamins with Halal vitamins, JaanJ which designs non-silk vegan ties, Amara | September 2012 | HALALconnect â&#x20AC;˘ 23

Cosmetics who have developed an entire range of Halal cosmetic products, and LittleBigKids which offers a wide range of culturally and religiously inspired products for kids. Each year, the list of products and companies just keeps growing. Islamic Finance companies like Amana Mutual Funds, University Islamic Financial, Iman Fund, Guidance Residential, and Ijara Loans are offering many Sharia-compliant financial products. And while Muslims in America have not yet embarked completely on the concept of Islamic Finance, as they do not see much difference between conventional banking and Islamic Finance companies, significant progress is being made year by year. Today, there is a fast-growing and diverse set of media and forums that enable access to the American Muslim market. From fast growing online networks such as,, and to publications such as Azizah magazine (for American Muslim women) and various regional newspapers. A variety of media are fast maturing with captive audiences that reflect the full fabric of the American Muslim society and are becoming popular in bringing issues of American Muslims to the forefront.

Journalists like Carla Power from Time Magazine and Paul Barrett from BusinessWeek have written extensively about the upcoming American Muslim Market; big advertising giant, Ogilvy & Mather has a whole division advocating the Muslim Market and they have all been active participants in the past AMCC conferences. All these developments are good for

the word Halal is no longer a strange sight

tolerance, and this all helps to confirm the value –economic, social and spiritual– of the Muslim community in the USA. There can be little doubt that over the coming years, American Muslims will make increasingly significant contributions through their entrepreneurial and commercial activities. A new generation with fresh ideas about business, media, trade and finance will bring a new vision, nurtured by their faith, and forged by the needs and the realities of life in America. We plan to be a part of that. [e\

the growing Muslim Community, and this platform needs to be developed still further to enable more interaction and exchange between entrepreneurs and businesses developing products and services for this market catering to American Muslims. Over the years, AMCC has created a valuable arena for the relaxed exchange of ideas and activities between the Muslim and non-Muslim business communities with diverse cultural backgrounds. Common ground and shared interests have emerged in an atmosphere of understanding and

The 4th annual American Muslim Consumer Conference will be held on Saturday, November 17th at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton at Newark Airport, Newark, New Jersey, USA. This year’s conference theme will be “The New Face of Muslim Consumers”, to analyze and discuss the market as a group of socially conscious, innovative, and engaged consumers. For more details please visit


4th Annual



NEW FACE of MUSLIM CONSUMERS Socially Conscious, Innovative & Engaged

November 17, 2012

Conference Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

For More Information:

24 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Newark Airport 1258 Frontage Road | Newark, NJ 07114

“There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you…”

it may be


(Qur’an 6:38)

but is it


by Abdalhamid Evans

Over 10 billion animals are killed for food every year in the USA. The majority of them do not lead natural lives; they are raised, killed and processed with more of an eye on the bottom line than on the animal’s welfare. For the proponents of Halal food, isn’t it time we started asking ourselves how the animal lived, not just how it died? | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 25


ne of the great challenges within the Halal movement is to maintain a balanced sense of priority. Letting the big things remain big, and keeping the small things small is not so easy in these times we live in. You could indeed argue that this applies to the application and practice of Islam throughout the world today. It is easy to lose a sense of proportion, get caught up in the details and lose the bigger picture altogether. There is a tendency within the Halal movement in general to focus almost exclusively on the method of slaughter, and, undoubtedly, it is the critical factor that distinguishes Halal meat from all other types. However, if we overlook the issues surrounding the humane treatment of the animals that we eat, then surely we are really missing the point. There is a default perception in many parts of the world that Halal is outdated, primitive and cruel. While we may all like to assume that this is down to either ignorance or ill-will, we need to accept that not enough has been done, from within the pro-Halal camp, to pro-actively change this perception. When it comes to conversations about animal welfare, we tend to find ourselves on the defensive, and the primary reason for this is that we are simply not demonstrating the real concern for animals that is an inherent part of Islam. Food manufacturing on an industrial scale has an inbuilt tendency to see animals as things rather than living creatures. They are the ‘raw material’ that goes into a finished product. Profitability becomes paramount, and any part of the process that does not directly contribute to the bottom line can be removed. The humane and compassionate handling of animals that are heading for the dinner table can all too easily fall into the category of things that do not contribute to the bottom line. Consumers want to pay a minimum, so food becomes a commodity where the producer with the lowest price wins. This is the default setting in our marketplace; but it is not the only option. Over that past two decades, the inherent value of treating animals with kindness, even if – or especially if – you are going to eat them, has gained more traction with both customers and manufacturers. There is a growing recognition that despite the economic imperatives of doing business, the humane treatment of animals

is not only better for the animals and the products derived from them, but it can also be better business. This shift of values in the marketplace offers a unique opportunity for Halal food manufacturers to embody the inherent animal welfare component of Islam, and at the same time, turn it into added value for their products.

Getting Certified Humane

In 1998, former congressional staff member Adele Douglass recognised that the most effective means of changing abusive farming practices was through the market place, via consumer awareness and demand. People vote with their wallets every time they make a purchase, and as she puts it, “If people had any idea how their food was produced, they would not buy it.” After travelling to the UK to meet representatives from the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods project ( freedomfood), she returned to tackle these issues in the US, and finally set up Humane Farm Animal Care and the Certified Humane programme in February 2003. A decade further on, with a staff of five and an impressive scientific committee of twenty-five experts, including luminary Dr. Temple Grandin, the HFAC programme is established as the leading

“If people had any idea how their food was produced, they would not buy it.”

Number of animals raised under HFAC standards

30000000 22500000 15000000 7500000 0









animal welfare label requiring humane treatment of farm animals from birth to slaughter. The website at provides a wealth of information, including comprehensive Standards for nine different animal types, policy manuals and slaughter standards, including sections on Halal and Kosher. Response from the farming community has been positive. Consumers have become increasingly aware, not just about the welfare of the animals, but also of the improved quality of meat derived from animals that have lived natural lives. Less stress equals less adrenaline and other toxins in the meat. Shoppers can ease their conscience and their bodies at the same time. From under 150,000 animals under the HFAC programme in 2003, 2011 saw over 25 million animals reared and handled according to the Certified Humane guidelines. Clearly the message is getting through to the market. Customers like the products, and farmers, especially small independent producers, appreciate the niche that the HFAC programme gives them. It turns out that being kind to animals is good for business.

Halal and Humane

If you are looking for Certified Humane options for Halal, the

26 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

choices are of course more limited. Some Halal producers, such as Crescent Foods and Saffron Road, have made a point of sourcing chickens from Amish farmers who bring a strong sense of ethics and morality into their farming practices. In accordance with their own beliefs, as well as ours, these farmers insist on vegetarian feed without the antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products found in most chicken feeds. They also allow the birds to live a life that is as natural as possible, roaming in barns without cages, and there is no doubt that all of this translates into a better tasting and healthier product. According to Adele Douglass, Murray’s Chickens in upstate New York is the only chicken farmer certified by the HFAC programme. Saffron Road’s strategy to source Certified Humane chicken from Murray’s has to be seen as a ground-breaking move, as it allows them to have the ‘Certified Humane’ logo on their Halal chicken range, the first time these two logos have appeared side by side. It is hoped that this reflects a shift of awareness among the Muslim community, and is a sign that the focus is moving past the tunnel-vision of the slaughter process to take in the ‘tayyib’ aspect of what we are eating. So why are there not more Halal producers taking the humane route? No doubt there is greater awareness and demand from mainstream consumers than there is from the Muslim community.

But why? Why is the welfare of the animals we eat only of marginal interest to us? Why are we only concerned about how the animals have been slaughtered? What about the way they lived? A recent poll on found that over 85% agreed with the statement that ‘the humane treatment of animals is an integral part of being Halal compliant’. At a time when the spending power of the American Muslim customers is starting to be recognised, we need to widen our field of vision. We don’t want to suffer from the same dietary disorders and health problems that are associated with the fast-food culture. We have to want more than that, and as we in fact make a statement of our values every time we open our wallets, this is the moment to think again about what is really important to us. Our Prophet has taught us that a good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being. While most of us would not treat an animal in a cruel manner, we may be unknowingly participating in cruelty by the foods we buy. Concern for the creation –the air, the water, the earth– and the creatures that we share it with, are surely essential elements of our Deen. We cannot claim to be vice-regents on God’s earth if we are only concerned with ourselves. Isn’t it time we broadened our horizons? | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 27

HALAL it here yet? By Naazish YarKhan

Did you know all the major restaurant chains in Singapore are Halal certified? And did you know the Muslim population in Singapore is approximately the same as the number of Muslims in metro Chicago? Many of those products going to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, are supplied by US manufacturers. Whether it is French Fries, doughnuts, icecream or the sauces in your favorite restaurant dish, mainstream American food service manufacturers have Halal certified products. However, it is only for the export market. They are suppliers to chains such as Popeyes, KFC, McDonald’s….overseas.

What gives? Decision-makers in the mainstream food industry contend that there is not enough demand for Halal in the domestic market. “Usually if I want to eat meat, I go to a Halal place and for fish, or other things, I go to regular restaurants” says Lailah Zee, a Halal consumer, via “It would be nice to have a choice everywhere.” The handful of restaurants that claim to serve Halal in the US, are not certified and could have both Halal

and non-Halal products on sale. Just as the food service industry caters to restaurants, it also caters to airlines, hospitals, correctional facilities and more. “For Halal products to become mainstream first you have to increase awareness about it,” says Don Tymchuck, president of Med-Diet. His company works with niche food manufactures as a distributor of their Halal, sugar-free and gluten-free products. France’s Quick, a fast food chain, knows the importance of adapting to change. A few years ago, it converted 22 of its restaurants to Halal-only. Pork products didn’t sell much at certain Quick locations, fish products sold best, and come Ramadan, sales slumped during the day and increased in the evening after Iftaar. Recognizing that demand was tied to the religious observances of its sizable Muslim customer base, Quick seized a business opportunity and its restaurants in those select locations went Halal. France was also the first western nation to advertise a Halal product on TV. “Generally, restaurant menus are driven by consumer demand,” says Annika Stensson, a National Restaurant Association spokesperson. “If more consumers request Halal products, chances are that more restaurants would serve them. Availability and cost are also factors, of course, like with any product.” Leila Ali is skeptical. “Here in the States, it won’t work. The Arab community in France is bigger and more concentrated than here in Chicago, for example. I see myself asking for Halal in a downtown restaurant and the response would be ‘What’s that?’ I don’t think people will ask for Halal in regular places anytime soon.” “Halal isn’t that common in many US mainstream restaurants, yet. If there is a relatively significant movement to adopt Halal in the US, it is in places where it is mandatory to offer food in keeping with religious observances, places like hospitals, schools, correctional facilities and universities,” says Mr. Tymchuck. Nonetheless, here too, the relationship between demand and

28 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

supply is clear. University of Michigan, for instance, recognizes the importance of offering Halal meals. Many of its students are from Dearborn, Michigan home to the largest population of ArabAmerican Muslims and hundreds of Halal restaurants and stores. “We offer menu options for religious observances of all faiths and try to be as fair as possible. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) has a strong presence on campus so it helps us to identify them,” says Kathryn Whiteside, Director, Menu Systems and Nutrition. But to have a successful program, “get students who want Halal involved in the process. That will lead to conversations with vendors,” she says. “(We) went on tours of Halal based restaurants in Dearborn and Muslim students spent a summer working in our kitchen and helped develop recipes. It was a very rewarding experience for the students and for us,” says Ms. Whiteside. She recalls an incident when a student actually called his mother from the campus dining hall kitchen to verify seasonings for a lentil soup. “We really wanted to get the seasoning and recipes correct,” she laughs. The result of all this engagement at University of Michigan is extensive Halal availability, including in retail micro-restaurants/convenience stores in residential halls. Tufts University, in contrast, offers a limited menu. Halal is meat baked with salt and pepper, offered three times a week. Special requests are accepted for hotdogs and hamburgers. While a conservative estimate of Muslims on campus is a few dozen, only twelve students have asked for and utilize the Halal service. “We react to customer needs, there haven’t been requests,” says Julie Lampie, RD, Nutrition and Marketing Specialist at Tufts. Could that be because of a rather limited menu? Ms. Lampie

agrees there is room for more dialogue with the students. “Tufts Dining Services capacity is stretched to the limit but, yes, perhaps if they were to learn more about students’ needs, the Halal offerings would be better,” says Ms. Lampie. Rosemont, IL based US Foods (, one of America’s leading distributors of more than 350,000 food products, does carry Halal products. US Foods is a link between manufacturers of food products and over 250,000 restaurants and cafeteria’s in hospitals, hotels, government and educational institutions. Gordon Foods Service®, Sysco® and other distributors also carry Halal foods. “US Foods carries a wide range of products to serve its diverse base of customers, including Halal products. Consumers looking for specialty products should approach their local restaurant associations and favorite restaurants with information on how the restaurants and its diners can benefit from adding Halal products to menus,” said Stacie Sopinka, senior director, Product Development and Innovation, US Foods. On that note, here’s one final thought. Would you ask for Halal at your favorite restaurant, ice cream shoppe, fast food chain, campus dining service? Is it time for Halal consumers to be pro-active?



are driven by consumer



Naazish YarKhan is Director, Content Strategy at IFANCA and Managing Editor, Halal Consumer magazine. Learn more about IFANCA at; twitter at @ifanca and Reprinted with kind permission from Halal Consumer Issue 22.

Locating Halal Foods When Travelling Halal Healthy® and Foodservice Express® are working to provide you with Halal food wherever you travel.

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to fill in a survey on your travel habits and the Halal foods you wish to have available. Halal Healthy and Foodservice Express are divisions of Med-Diet, Inc. a nationwide provider of specialty foods | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 29

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Eat Local & Live Well by Yvonne Maffei

chef, writer, editor, publisher and Founder of

Eating Local Food is a part of ‘fitra’

Eating locally may seem like one of the latest food trends to come our way, but it was the norm before the concept of buying globally introduced people to the idea that they can get what they want, whenever they want, at the lowest price, without concern for the effect it might have on the environment. This movement has just started experiencing a re-birth out of the necessity to try and put things back into balance by supporting local farms, growers and organic farmers who are struggling to compete. Also, to reduce the environmental impact caused by the transportation of these food products, which can also cause food contamination. Springing up everywhere around the world are local food groups, culinary artisans, young organic farmers and food educators who see themselves as a catalyst to the changes that the world so desperately needs while we endure the blows of financial setbacks, political upheaval and unpredictability in the chaos our natural environment is experiencing.

What is a Locavore?

Typically, eating local food means consuming food grown close enough to home, roughly within a 100-mile radius. Locally grown food doesn’t contribute to large amounts of air pollution via

gas-guzzling transportation with a high carbon footprint, wreaking havoc on the ozone and contributing to global warming causing extreme and unpredictable weather patterns that destroy homes, agriculture, livestock and human lives.

Shopping at farmer’s markets and eating at restaurants supporting the local food movement with their ingredients, also helps the local economy. Dictionaries today actually define locavores as people “who eat foods grown

locally wherever possible”. They eat from local sources, such as urban gardens, farmers markets, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), or even their own backyards. The movement known as Locavorism began in San Francisco in 2005 and caught on strongly with food activists, environmentalists, chefs and anyone interested or concerned in the ill effects of factory farming and the high price to be paid for buying food on the cheap. Locavorism encourages consumer responsibility in people who had never before thought much about the chain of events occurring within the food industry worldwide that might be harmful to animals and humans. It made folks ask the how and why type of questions that provided shocking answers to what would suddenly make a case for plenty of people to try and revolutionize the way food is brought from farm to table. They decided to create more connected markets, or develop relationships between farmers and consumers in order to close the gap on questions about the sources of their food and the methods which bring it to the table.

Encourage local Halal meat production

Muslims have been doing this sort of thing for centuries - asking butchers where exactly the meat came from and exactly how | September 2012 | HALALconnect • 31

it was slaughtered, confirming whether or not it was truly Halal. In that discourse, many other tidbits of highly useful information are discovered, such as location and reputation of the farmer, the mode and length of transport and the actual processing of the meat. Eating Halal meat and chicken provided by local farms and poultry producers could help to assure Muslims that the meat they are being sold is truly Halal. Buying from local farmers might help to dispel that doubt. In states like Pennsylvania it is made easier by the Amish farmers who have a high code of ethics in the way they raise animals before the Halal slaughter. Other poultry farmers in upper New York have managed to obtain a Certified Humane logo for their chickens based on their humane treatment of the birds, as they know this is a new and growing niche market for them. With demand, humanely treated animals can become available locally. People have to ask for it, and some farmers will consider changing their methods to capture this new growing market, that will provide a cheaper but acceptable alternative to organic. This is already being done in Canada.

A modern day fairy tale?

Though the benefits of shopping and eating local are numerous, it should be mentioned that not everyone is as happy with the idea they call a modern day fairytale, saying it is a rejection of modernism and progress in exchange for the more rustic ways of yesteryear.

In fact they couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, there might be some cons to eating local, but just about every one of them has a simple solution.

• Eating Local Seasonal food

Let’s enjoy fruits and vegetables when they’re at their finest, at the peak of their season, freshly picked, and available at the local farmer’s market. They become something for us to look forward to and relish at certain times of the year. People will learn what is in season, and actively seek it out at particular times of the year for its fresh taste.

• Higher Prices

This may be true in some cases but local demand will help lower the price. If you get to know a farmer or buy in bulk, you can often negotiate prices that are very competitive with regular grocery stores. Grow your own whenever possible and when harvesting produce, the excess will force you into preserving them, or freezing them, for the winter.

• Time-consuming

It may take some time to drive to a farmer’s market nearby, which may have limited hours, but meeting with the people in your area can make it enjoyable. Going directly to the farm can be turned into a family outing, and familiarize your children with where their food comes from, and how and when it is grown.

Support your local producers

Some people say that the global market produces a large variety of foods that a local market could never compete with. We must

32 • HALALconnect | September 2012 |

be more long-sighted than this. The current agricultural system of mass production that uses pesticides and other chemicals to bring us that variety is actually damaging the environment and ruining crops at an alarming rate. It’s also threatening bio-diversity in plant life, something that local growers who use organic practices to grow food just don’t experience at the same level. For small local producers, diversity and sustainabilty are hard-wired into their work. Take the time to look for the local producers in your area. Their produce is good for us, and our support is good for them! Check for groups near to you at www. and search by your zip code. Find out about their products, how often they are offered, pick-up times and locations, as well as cost. For more information on how to join a CSA, please look here: http://www.



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Halal Connect  

The magazine of the American Halal Association

Halal Connect  

The magazine of the American Halal Association