My husband is coeliac and therefore requires gluten-free foods. This evening, he was trying a new brand of gluten-free chicken tenders from a company called Saffron Road. I noticed that the box was marked “halal certified.” I flipped over to the back of the box and found the following explanation:
Saffron Road celebrates the memorable meals and mutual values families and friends of all cultures share around the dinner table. . . . All our chickens are Certified Humane and sourced from small sustainably run farms with 100% vegetarian feed and are never given antibiotics. Our Halal tradition demands their proper care and welfare.
Halal is a tradition that has nourished billions of people over the last 1,400 years. Halal promotes the sacred practices of respect for the land, fair treatment for farmers, humane treatment of livestock and wholesome food to eat. You’ll be amazed how good such carefully prepared food tastes and how it genuinely replenishes the body and soul!
I’m intrigued to see how halal is being marketed as world cuisine, organic food, and fair trade. I’m also intrigued that there are no overt references to Islam–although the reference to “billions of people over the last 1,400 years” and to “sacred practices” hints at that. Why the circumlocution? An attempt to avoid controversy? A complicated bid to pitch the food as culturally specific (for the sake of the “world cuisine” appeal) while avoiding association with a specific religion (which might impede the effort to crossover to a non-Muslim clientele)? Note how the company pitches halal as an expression of “mutual values” shared by “families and friends of all cultures.”
I’m curious to know–has kosher food ever been cross-marketed like this?