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Halal, Organic Foods Available At New Market

News From : DagangHalal.com (13 Oct 2010)

A new business in Naples hopes to address the dietary needs of Muslims and organic food devotees under one roof, and just in time for the end of Ramadan.

SunLife Organics is set to open this weekend at 4206 Enterprise Ave. in the Naples area.

Although the shop will stock foods imported from the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent that are halal, or permissible, for Muslims to eat, the focus according to those close to the project is to get people to pay more attention to what they are putting in their bodies.

“The idea of bringing the halal food is that we’ve got to open our eyes and see what’s going on and question what we’re eating and why we’re eating it,” explained the store’s general manager, Rasim Kut, who also is president of the Islamic Center of Naples.

Packs of the fragrant spice mix of zaatar from Jordan and cold-pressed olive oil, as well as gelatin-free gummy bears and Jello, were among the first items to arrive at the store, which also will stock beef, lamb, goat and chicken all slaughtered according to Islamic regulations.

Although halal food, which should be free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives, is organic, not all organic food is halal. Local Muslims have few options to get some products – like meat and poultry – that is permissible for them to eat, and have to pay close attention to labels. Even bouillon cubes are a problem.

Products containing pork, alcohol and meat that hasn’t been slaughtered according to the Muslim rite – which includes having slaughtered the animal humanely and draining the blood properly – are available in Tampa and Miami, and to a limited extent in Fort Myers, but SunLife hopes to close that gap and introduce organic food enthusiasts to the concept of halal.

Although finding organic food has become easier in Naples in recent years, the store’s owner, Ray Chowdhury, believes SunLife will have an edge over larger chains because all products in the shop will be organic. It also will offer home delivery and online purchasing.

Health issues prompted Chowdhury, a Naples resident who specializes in data and voice communications, to action. The more he got involved with the Muslim community, the more he learned to take notice of what he was eating.

“I developed a passion for the organic when I because very sick years ago,” he said. “The doctors could not cure me and I had to research and educate myself … and get rid of the harmful habits I had.”

This included cutting out sodas and fast foods, as well as switching to an organic/halal diet.

Kut and Chowdhury don’t see their shop in direct competition with smaller but more established organic food shops in Naples because they insist their products, because of the halal certification, “is like one step beyond organic,” the owner explained.

And the connection between food and faith is simple, according to Kut:

“When you eat right, you grow spiritually.”

Victoria Macchi can be reached at [email protected]

– Naples Daily News

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