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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid