News / USA

Local US Farmers Cater to Muslim Traditions

A goat slaughtered according to the Halal tradition at Joe Kavanagh's farm in Mount Airy, Maryland
A goat slaughtered according to the Halal tradition at Joe Kavanagh's farm in Mount Airy, Maryland

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Many Muslim-Americans have often had difficulty finding Halal-certified meat, or meat slaughtered in according to Islamic tradition, in their local grocery stores.  Sometimes, they have resorted to buying whole goats or lambs on farms and slaughtering them on-site themselves, in accordance with tradition.  But this is illegal in many parts of the United States.  Realizing the growing Muslim market in the U.S., some American farmers are opening legal halal-certified slaughterhouses with great success.

After 37 years of working with livestock on other people's farms, Joe Kavanagh decided to open a slaughterhouse on his own farm with a unique clientele in mind.

Part of his business is catering to Muslims, who want to buy meat from animals they know have been slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic tradition of halal.

"My youngest sister is married to a Kuwaiti Muslim," said Joe Kavanagh, owner of Lambco. "And, we had talked about it over the years.  There is a lot of, well we call them 'back woods' operations in America where people go and get lambs and goats and stuff like that.  I just wanted to do something for the rest of my life and not have to look over my shoulders and hold my breath when I did it."

WARNING: This Video Contains Graphic Images

The "back woods" operations, as Joe calls them, are illegal in this part of rural Maryland, and rarely clean or sanitary.  Joe saw an opportunity to build a legally-certified slaughterhouse that catered to the Muslim community.

His facility called Lambco LLC,  is built in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture safety and sanitary standards.

Most of his business is with a large national grocery store chain, but he also sells to individuals.  And with more than 800,000 Muslims in the Baltimore-Washington area, he says business is growing every month.  

One of Joe's customers, Syed Wagar Farhat, is from Pakistan.  He has been slaughtering animals the halal way since he was a young boy.

"When we slaughter, we slaughter with the knife and we cut like half throat and we have to read some verses of our holy book, Koran," said Syed Wagar Farhat.

Traditional U.S. slaughterhouses shoot animals in the head with a stun-gun, causing brain trauma.  Then they hoist the animals up and bleed them out.  The Islamic way is to hold the animal down with its head pointed toward Mecca.

As the person performing the ritual recites the Koran, he makes a quick cut to the main arteries in the neck. The animal bleeds out, and slowly loses consciousness.  According to the Koran, this should be done as humanely as possible.

"This way, all the air when he breathe, all the air will go in, and all the blood will come out," explained Farhat. "So there will be no blood in his tissues and muscles."

Joe Kavanagh says the most difficult thing about starting his business was working through all the county, state, and federal health regulations.

"You would have thought I was building a nuclear reactor down here and getting water out of the creek," he said.

His facility is inspected regularly, and he is often complimented on its cleanliness - something that is not lost on customers like Farhat who used to frequent some of the illegal operations.

"We used to go to some farms and they didn't have a slaughter house," Farhat said. "We had to slaughter by the trees where we can have a lot of mosquitoes and insects."

For Joe Kavanagh, working with the Muslim community is good business.  Farhat leaves with peace of mind.  The goat meat will last his family for a month.  He knows the facility was clean, the animal was healthy and was slaughtered in accordance with Islamic tradition.  

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid