Why I'd Rather Eat Halal Food (Including Campbell's Soup)

Critics have accused the ISNA of being affiliated with Palestinian resistance movement Hamas (recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States), but what Muslim group hasn't been accused of having terrorist ties at one time or another? Do we need to play the Jon Stewart video clip connecting Fox News concretely to Saudi prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal? "Six Degrees of Hamas" is about as newsworthy as playing a round of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Blame-Bacon2.jpg
Curiously, you can also link Kevin Bacon to Jon Stewart. PANIC.
Accusing Campbell's of falling in line with terrorists after having their facility and product certified as halal by the ISNA is about as foolish as accusing Kevin Bacon of being responsible for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan because Bacon was once in a movie with Eddie Albert, a costar of Reagan's in the 1960s. What it really comes down to is a smart business decision by a company that recognizes its consumers.

In Canada, there are more than 700,000 Muslims. By making 15 of its products available to that market segment, Campbell's is now able to sell soup to 700,000 more people than it previously could. It's business, plain and simple.

But why I'd rather eat halal meat is personal. Take this quote from a recent New York Times op-ed piece on the increasing popularity of kosher foods in America by Sue Fishkoff:

Every time a major American food product goes kosher, observant Jews are delighted. Coca-Cola in 1935. Oreos in 1997. Tootsie Rolls last year and two Gatorade drinks earlier this year. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Smucker's grape jam, Tropicana orange juice -- every new item brought into the kosher pantry is a sign of fitting in the American mainstream while being observant.

Every time a major food product goes halal, it's also true: Muslims are delighted. Not only is it another western food that can be incorporated into their diets, it's a signal that mainstream America is embracing them -- hotly contested religion and all -- as one of their own. It's a signal that our melting pot is still bubbling, still taking new flavors into the mix.

Unfortunately, this particular halal food product is only available in Canada -- a country that hasn't taken quite the same distrusting stance against Muslims as America has -- but it's a step in the right direction. It's a step that shows an appropriately enlightened attitude toward a wrongly maligned minority group: Not all Muslims are terrorists. Muslims are our coworkers, our neighbors and our friends.

And in that same vein, I prefer eating halal food because it's a signal to my Muslim friends and neighbors that not all Americans are intolerant, bigoted, self-righteous, frightened bullies. Some of us just like to eat and eat well.


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4 comments
Kim
Kim

Thank you for writing a well-informed, well-researched article about halal food in North America. As an American-Protestant-born person who converted to Islam over six years ago, it has been difficult to give up some of the foods I loved dearly in my childhood. It is so nice to see that awareness for halal food is increasing, albeit very slowly. I hope one day food that is halal will be viewed just as kosher food, and that it will be just as readily available. In the meantime, people who limit their views to narrow-mindedness and bigotry are missing out on friendships and associations with some truly wonderful, pious people. I feel badly for them.

Lee
Lee

Are you kidding? Canadians are no more tolerant than Americans. I do not want tomato soup blessed by a bunch of whackos.

bernieplanck
bernieplanck

@KimYou do realize that the Quran specifically allows Muslims to eat Kosher (Surah 5:5 of the Quran) so you do not have to give up foods if they are Kosher. In Canada these are products with COR certification, the largest kosher certification agency in Canada. There is no need for Halal which  imposes extra costs on food manufacturers unnecessarily.

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