Ethical, environmental, certain: the other side of halal food

Posted by: Newswalle

In the valley of the Cherwell, in a quiet country lane on the outskirts of Oxford, a place of pioneer advanced halal food industry in the UK. Next wave of green where the start is Willowbrook Farm Cotswolds, where Ruby Radwan Lutfi and his five children and raise animals such as the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed as a target. For Radwan, means that ecologically and sustainably. Chickens wander among birches and dogwood. Sheep chewing grass free of chemicals, and the nose to flower meadows. When it is time to slaughter, each animal – in accordance with Islamic law – has the name of God on it pronounced before shipment. Relying on Allah before killing an animal is only "recognition of a spirituality behind all material existence," says Ruby. "It brings you back to the people to be stewards of God's earth."

The two grew up in London Radwan, not cattle. Lutfi began his career as an Oxford don in geography and development consultant; Rubin was a teacher and alternative healer. In 2002, disillusioned with academic life, both urban and halal meat supply, which bought 45 acres, I planted thousands of young trees that had been wheat stubble, and began raising sheep, goats and chickens. Today, to sell their products, they online from a small farm shop as well as offering open houses, camping and concerts. On a recent afternoon to discuss, during the lambing season falls a neighboring farmer plastering the house with thatched roof, the pair builds, while studies from nine years old, at home on the table trained living room.

If Willowbrook Farm conjures up images of The Good Life paintings and Constable, the word "halal" is often loaded with controversy. Stories Halal twisted together two stories of fear Boulevard favorite: food security and foreign species. "Let slash throats in" animal slaughter ritual halal and kosher meat says the new head of the British veterans, "screamed a headline Mail Online, after the elected President of the British Veterinary Association said in March that the methods of killing Jews and Muslims were "inhuman" and warned that a total ban can not be far away. David Cameron in the UK to calm quickly, Muslims and Jews that its halal and shafts methods were safe under his rule. Yet halal meat remains a charged issue, with members the devastating English Defence League on their availability in UK schools and hospitals.

Through animal protection groups, including the RSPCA, the fact of the matter is, prior to slaughter, legally prescribed by EU regulations for all but religious groups anesthesia (although Sweden has a lot of great time required, independent, and Denmark regulation has recently adopted like). Halal slaughter requires that an animal must be alive and to be healthy, and sent a quick throat with a sharp knife, a method that leave the blood in the channel interface allows. Killing without paying an unconscious animal is cruel, argue the defenders of animal rights. Not so, argue the Muslims by. Based on studies that show that the suffering of animals is minimal with a qualified butcher

In fact, 88% of halal meat in the UK comes from animals which have been stunned before slaughter, but 12% is not in controversy, even among the Muslims. Two boards Halal certification underlines the UK, the Halal Food Authority allows impressive, while the Halal Monitoring Committee forbids to kill for reasons that sometimes stuns the animals before slaughter. With a handful of regulators and various definitions of what constitutes halal, customers are confused: It was also to have demanded halal meat referred to as "stunned" and "numb". A report by the organization for beef and sheep industry including proposals Eblex appointment to have an Islamic religious scale of "compulsory acts" to "prohibited acts".

Halal organic farmers and Ruby Radwan Lutfi Radwan, his sons in Willow Brook Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Harry Borden for the Observer Food Monthly

What everyone agrees on is that British Muslims eat a lot of meat. The study estimates that 20% Eblex eaten lamb country. The British Muslim population is 2.7 million, or about 5% of the total – a number that is estimated increased by 8% in 2030 to reach wonder that the people in the meat industry, its customers are Muslim .. "killed Supermarkets fishmongers and bakers, "Metzger said in an abattoir in Birmingham, who declined to be named. "They are trying to ban halal by the wonderful theme., If they do, every sheep farmer is English."

Perhaps because of the sensitivities to halal, supermarkets were relatively low profile about their halal lines. If, as a halal source joked in the past from the industry: "They did not want halal contact with pincers," there is now a growing acceptance that can not ignore the Muslim pounds. After the Muslim Council of Britain, the halal food market in the UK is worth 1 billion. Ocado has opened an online store and halal Tesco started selling halal products more than five years ago. Some grocery stores have halal meat operated sections of specialized companies. The Spring Tesco in Birmingham, is the meat counter of meat suppliers in the UK Halal National Center, with Muslims and non-Muslims run base buy their lamb chops and chicken peri-peri there under the suspension plate assured that meat is "in accordance with the teachings of the Koran and the Sunna [the way of the Prophet Muhammad] made. "

For Willowbrook Farm Radwan Lutfi, the argument feels awesome to be disproportionate. For most of the British halal meat as before stunned, "the only difference between halal and non-stunned slaughter halal consciousness is a gift from God," he says. While consist of factory farming techniques and mechanical slaughter, "if the debate stun / stun is not really a priority for a veterinarian to be?" He asks. "The last three seconds of the life of an animal?"

The halal industry, he says, tends to focus too much on how animals die, and not in the way they live to concentrate. Halal certification exams are offered on the details, whether it is "blessed road" to concentrate alcohol in the hand sanitizer in slaughterhouses, or the use of illegal before slaughter using prayer written on them, rather than providing them each animal. But there are larger issues at stake, as the emphasis of Islam on sustainable living and kindness to animals. The Quran commands Muslims to "eat what's on the legitimate and healthy soil," but too often, says Lutfi, the value of legality remains – Halal – instead of Tayyib, healthy and pure. Many manufacturers of halal meat to often reflect the difficulties of the mass food industry: the convenience and low cost often more than Islamic diktat on natural methods of agriculture and animal husbandry. "Halal is much wider than kill an animal or meat," says Nazir Muhammad, CEO of Ghanim International UK, a halal food business in Brunei government support. "It's about eating foods that are in their physical and mental well-being is an individual benefit."

As the industry grows halal butchers and kebab shops to a huge industry, there is an inevitable tension between the desire for comfort and the search for spiritual improvement. Chains such as KFC and Nando create branches Halal, Halal Pizza Express uses chicken and supermarkets draw a growing demand for halal frozen food. "The products that will allow for more comfortable lifestyle becoming more popular as the food you can simply" grave and Go "as halal meat prepackaged" says Noor Ali, managing director of global food Morrisons, which has also been a rise of child- To view products – ". nuggets, fries, popcorn and burgers"

Purists like Radwan care about the race for the mainstream. "We can not afford to be subsumed into what is already wrong with British food industry," says Lutfi. "If everything is halal, it must be a little more holistically. Has to be distinguished."

If Willowbrook Farm is halal in the forefront of organic food, there are indications that there is an appetite – and money – buy their chickens 18:50. With the rise of the Muslim middle class, a new generation of consumers want to eat halal, but also to enjoy the variety and even luxury. So, now you can order a basket "Snack Attack" for the pilgrims Hajj Halal Hamper house, or a "couture cake without egg" enjoy sugar-cream cake, eggs from hens not prevent halal. Al Halal Food Festival last year, "Haloodies" – halal food lovers – could enjoy everything from halal non-alcoholic wine in the Big Apple hotdogs halal. The festival, the brainchild of Imran Kausar, medical and Noman Khawaja, a dentist turned entrepreneur halal, born out of frustration. "You could go to a dodgy kebab place, but you can not go to a high-end restaurant," Khawaja said. "It was as I said does not make sense," You're a Muslim, and you can not drive a Ferrari. '. "

Month to month, that's changing. Halal Restaurant Directory Online Zabihah includes China Tang at The Dorchester and Michelin Star Benares in Mayfair. The end of April, Mail Online reports that Subway sandwich chain had removed the pork and bacon from 185 stores, which had also changed halal meat. Subway replied that his policies have been since 2007, to a menu only halal, where it has to offer customer demand. In his blog Halal Girls About Town, Layla Hassanali writes about the rapidly growing opportunity for Muslim dinner, extolling the delights of Cornish lamb in Ledbury in Notting Hill, or the "dirtiest search for Halal burgers London has to offer." "Here in UK, we are only at the beginning, "says the 22-year-old Hassanali. "Where there used to be only a question of the old Curry to be houses, now everything is just a little opening. I give it two years before the scene is huge."

In Birmingham, already. With a younger generation demanding more variety, balti houses in the town have restaurants such as Bubba Joe stepped forward, with Southern fried chicken, as well as the house of Ismail halal meat. A Ismail, where Islamic calligraphy and longhorn cattle horns framed hanging on the wall is, younger guests are usually order the Mexican border and rib-eye burger. For many a halal steak is completely new. "When we asked the guests how they want their meat cooked, spicy sometimes say," waitress Sophia Karim, Stoke-on-Trent raised Muslim heritage of the Polish-Bengali said. Inevitably, however, customers want their steaks well done, as the Koran forbids something to eat with the blood. "I used to be that Muslims in certain areas," he said. "But now they are all living in, and demand in Birmingham – a city very integrated – it's huge."

Seeks to combine an entrepreneur, the comfort with ethical precepts of Islam is Shazia Saleem. His company began iEat memory frozen lasagne, meatloaf and 10 plates in the freezer section of the selected branches of Sainsbury last. The goal is to Saleem had British Muslims, because the meat grown eyeing dishes, but could never eat. As a student of economics at the University of Warwick, to try his frustration, your shopping cart with anything but cheese and onion pie and pesto all convinced that it will fill a gap in the market. Saleem was born in Luton, but he was 25 before she had her first halal meat, aboard a Qatar Airways flight. "It was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had" them, especially because they already so long that they began to mourn waited, when he found out that she says was running. A friendly hostess saves the cheese cannelloni through the corridor in the first class for an extra steak.

Chickens in Willowbrook Farm. Photo: Harry Borden for the Observer Food Monthly

Saleem, who previously venture belong to the Dragons' Den entrepreneur Peter Jones, had for equality gourmet works since her parents born in Sri Lanka for "Pasta Night", when she was seven under pressure.

"My argument was:". I was born in England, so I have more English food have, '"she says For Muslims who correspond with the choice of salmon or vegetables may seem small, but it is an everyday exclusion Saleem wants to end" for British Muslims, which still never been able to eat what others enjoy, or converts, the English, they were able to eat everything -., and now can not – be able to get the cake feed his classic of its supermarkets and know that they are something that is halal, ethics and always tastes good, that's huge, "she says. 'They are not excluded."

How was your meals on the market is not easy because they are so interested in the "safe and clean" part of the Islamic restrictions was to defend, she believes begins with not only slaughter, but back in the supply chain and passes through a utility company . "A lot of time is spent focusing on halal, and 50% of the instructions – the part Tayyib – are often ignored." In order to do this, to want to create a foundation with some benefits, industry conditions has avoided and used for meat packaging from sustainable forests. Keep your supply chain costs halal "an enormous amount of money," she says.

With the British public concern about food safety, Halal appeal to mainstream public seems the next logical step, Khawaja, who, along with Kauser, has in his Halal Food Festival selling packaged meat Haloodies added, Harrods and Ocado said. But before organic halal the next, all – Muslims included – must be better educated about what it means to be. Khawaja says: "If someone comes in and says, halal is really barbaric and inhumane, and if Muslims have not enough to know what information really is halal, then the temptation is to hit back, that the criticism of Islamophobia comes," he notes .

While the Daily Mail continues its frenzied coverage – ("Terror in halal slaughterhouses," said a headline in the spring) – To add a growing number of Britons at nuance of the conversation. Pioneers such as farmers and Saleem iEat Willowbrook try to broaden the debate on the question awesome and hold up a mirror to broader issues in the British food industry. Growth forecasts for the halal markets suggest you might do well, in addition to the well: a recent report from market research firm Dinar Standard found that the global market for halal food and lifestyle, worth $ 1.62tn in 2012, will grow to $ 2.47tn 2018. Success can not suppress concerns about halal standards, but it will certainly help to transform what was once perceived as an exotic practice in a British tradition.