A Muslim organic farmer from upstate New York made an emergency donation of vegetables to a kosher soup kitchen in Brooklyn.
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Zaid Kurdieh, who with his wife, Haifa, owns and farms at Norwich Meadows Farm, on Friday delivered 800 pounds of high-end organic carrots to Masbia, a network of kosher soup kitchens that provides meals to hundreds of hungry New Yorkers each week in Brooklyn and Queens. He also pledged to give more in the future.
Kurdieh’s donation came after the soup kitchen’s shortage of donated food was featured in a local ABC news report.
Masbia Executive Director Alexander Rapaport told ABC7 that the soup kitchen needs some 30,000 pounds of food a week to satisfy demand, and that last week it had only 15,000 pounds to distribute.
The Kurdiehs are devout Muslims who practice faith-based farming.
The husband and wife are both the grandchildren of Palestinian farmers who lost their land when Israel was founded in 1948, they told Gastronomica in an interview. Zaid was born in the United States, while Haifa was born in Jordan.
Zaid Kurdieh says he realized as a teenager that he had inherited his grandparents’ interest in farming. He and Haifa decided to started their own farm in 1998, with the goal of growing food organically and sustainably while incorporating Muslim values into their work, he told the journal.
For them, their approach to farming is yet another way to live their faith. The Kurdiehs interpret that Islamic definitions of permitted (halal) and forbidden (haram) foods to mean farmers should treat their land and animals responsibly, explained Kurdieh.
As religious Muslims, they aspire to an even higher standard of purity in food — tayyib — the journal explains. This means forgoing food produced with pesticides or poorly paid migrant workers, and also avoiding highly processed fast foods, Kurdieh said.