A recent horsemeat scandal in Europe has alarmed many Europeans, causing them to question the safety of food and the quality of its content. Although food is a fundamental necessity to sustain life, as a society we are moving our focus away from the quality of our food toward quantity. I hear people complain frequently about the price of food even more than the price of gasoline. I also sense that although many people complain about the higher costs of food, they are not complaining about the price of luxury items where they spend discretionary dollars such as designer clothes, electronics, etc. In some cases, people's logic for some of these nonessential items may be the more you pay, the better it must be. During today's challenging economic times, food producers are hard pressed to lower their costs, and occasionally as a result, unfortunate incidents occur where the unscrupulous take advantage of this dynamic, such is the case with the horsemeat scandal.
Karl Marx used the term ‘commodity fetishism’ in which the production of goods is so abstracted from its consumption that consumers lose all sight of the production conditions and the work involved, and think only in terms of the price of the finished product. Seldom is this concept more applicable than to food production today. We care only how it looks and tastes, assuming that others along the food chain from the USDA to produce growers and those who raise livestock to carry out their work properly and ethically. If one considers the amount of effort that is put into growing crops or raising livestock, especially quality, safe, ethically-raised food, what we pay for those neatly package items for nutritional consumption at the supermarket is outrageously reasonable.
Prophet Muhammed addresses food quality in various Quranic verses; however, there is no "Muslim food" per se. As Imam Nazim Mangera indicates after a casual show of hands at Masjid An-Noor one Friday after prayers, there are approximately 48 ethnic-heritage countries represented in attendance at the Masjid, along with as many types of food. For Muslims, food that is permissible to eat is halal.
Halal, which means 'lawful' or 'permissible' in Arabic, applies to foods that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic dietary guidelines. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. According to DiscoverIslam.org
, all foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
Swine/Pork and its by-products
Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
Foods contaminated with any of the above products
Muslims are taught through the Qur'an that all animals should be treated with respect and well cared for. The goal is to slaughter the animal, minimizing the amount of pain that the animal will endure. When an animal is slaughtered in the halal tradition, the jugular vein is cut and the blood is allowed to drain from the animal. There is significant controversy in the method of slaughtering animals that are bled to death as the animal frequently flails, suggesting suffering. Non-Islamic slaughter methods dictate that the animal should be rendered unconscious before slaughter. This is usually achieved by stunning or electrocution.
A study conducted at the University of Hannover, Germany compared the halal-method of animal slaughter and current Western methods of slaughter using electrodes implanted in the animals' brains. The results of the study determined that using the halal method of slaughter, there was not change in the EEG graph for the first three seconds after the incision was made, indicating that the animal did not feel any pain from the cut itself. The following three seconds were characterized by a condition of deep sleep-like unconsciousness brought about by the draining of large quantities of blood from the body. Thereafter the EEG recorded a zero reading, indicating no pain at all, yet at that time the heart was still beating and the body convulsing vigorously as a reflex reaction of the spinal cord. It is this phase which is most unpleasant to onlookers who are falsely convinced that the animal suffers whilst its brain does actually no longer record any sensual messages. This compares to EEG results that indicate severe pain after the stunning procedure used in a typical Western slaughterhouse. These are just some facts to consider when shopping for food the next time you visit your local grocery store.
by philiperico | Friday 22 February 2013 10:44am | Philip’s Journey to Learn about Islam | permalink | 0 comments
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