On 848, WBEZ’s Odette Yousef offers a fascinating 5-minute audio glimpse inside a subculture within a subculture most of us would never see. Qaid Hassan runs a zabiha-halal meats business, Whole Earth Meats, on the near South Side. This is not unusual in Chicago; there are even businesses around Devon Avenue where you can pick out your chicken, goat or lamb and have it killed freshly on the premises in accordance with Islamic law.
What’s unusual is that Hassan is trying to run his business not only in accordance with religious dictate, but with principles most of us would associate with the contemporary organic/locavore food movement. As Yousef observes, “All the animals that Hassan kills come from local farmers that he knows personally. That’s how he’s certain the beef has been grass-fed, the chickens are cage-free, and the animals have not been given hormones. But it’s his job to make sure the slaughter is according to Islamic law.”
And even more than most artisanal farmers or purveyors, Hassan has a hard time convincing customers, whether chefs or individuals, that they should pay two to three times more for the principles he considers important: “You’re putting something inside of you that benefits your soul and your body. [That] also means that we might have to pay a little bit more for our food.”