Are you a ‘halaloodie?’ Meet the bloggers making life easy for halal diners

From mind-boggling burgers to delicious desserts, these Muslim foodies take their followers on an international tour of the world’s best halal eateries. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 January 2018
0

Are you a ‘halaloodie?’ Meet the bloggers making life easy for halal diners

DUBAI: You can barely look at an Instagram feed now without encountering dozens of drool-worthy food photos. Social media has had an undeniable impact on how we view and consume food and, according to Dubai-based culinary personality Dima Sharif, how we “express and interact with food.
“People have become way more aware about food issues, (including) healthy eating, and even the cultural and historical impact of food around the world,” she told Arab News. “People have definitely become better cooks and developed a deeper appreciation for good food images too.”
Social media has even affected the hospitality industry to the extent of hotels and restaurants now thinking about their Instagram-friendliness when designing concepts. “The whole idea of Instagram-ability is catching on as restaurants and cafes are thinking about every detail in terms of both food and décor,” Fizzah, from The London Haloodie Instagram account, told Arab News.
But who among the social media world’s self-proclaimed foodies are wowing us with their images — while also being culturally sensitive? We trawled through Instagram to discover the culinary bloggers and influencers who not only specialize in halal food, but do so in style.
Curate your “following” list to include these, and you will have your gourmet inspiration sorted.
The London Haloodie
An eclectic combination of luxury restaurant meals, coffee and cakes (lots of it in fact), selfies, with the occasional travel pic thrown in for good measure, this is the Instagram feed you wish you had.
“I consider myself as showcasing the best halal places in London (and the places I travel to) that step away from the traditional notion of what halal food is, through the eyes of a modern Muslim,” said Fizzah. “In my opinion, just because we eat halal food it shouldn’t restrict us from trying different cuisines from all over the world.”
Sukaina Rajabali
No one does a flat lay quite like this self-taught food stylist and photographer. While her food shots feature a distinctive shabby chic aesthetic, her travel images are no less lust worthy. Her top tip for nailing the perfect flat lay? “Always think about balance in terms of how many items you have in the shot – odd numbers usually work better — and negative space.”
Dima Sharif Online
Dima Sharif’s Instagram account offers Middle Eastern cooking inspiration in spades, with beautiful shots from her cookbook. Drawing inspiration from “real food and real ingredients,” she also features ingredients, seasonal produce, as well as products from her own gourmet brand, DS Organic Mooneh. “I’m inspired by what’s going on in the world we live in, environmental issues and especially soil and farming,” she explained. And the bonus? Following her might also lead to giveaway wins.

DS Mooneh Story (Part 1, part 2 in the next post) “Quality Is My Legacy.” In the first decade of the 1900’s, my grandfather was a well known produce merchant in Jerusalem. He had a few fruit and vegetable shops opened in the ancient city, from where he supplied hotels, eateries, and the food industry back then with their produce requirements. He did very well and within just a few years he expanded his business to cover many different areas within Palestine. He believed that the key to his success and what makes or breaks any business is primarily the quality of the product and as importantly the building of a relationship with his customers, where his product is catered to their individual requirements. Those practices proved crucial to his career over the years and set him up to expand his business to eventually export his products to more Arab countries as well as Turkey and Europe. As the business expanded and grew, so did his clients’ requirements. And at that time it was somewhat difficult to control the quality of the produce supplied by the many individual farmers. He knew that in order to guarantee the quality he would have to control the production process. Also at that time, the whole modern farming processes were just starting and early versions of untested pesticides were rapidly filling the markets. The idea of ‘chemicals in his food’ did not sit well with him and so he opted to continue purchasing only from the farmers who did not use these chemicals in their farms. That proved easier said than done, as more and more farms were using those chemicals. That was when he decided to take the matter into his own hands and start producing the supply himself as a means to control the process and guarantee the standards and quality he was after. Therefore, in the early 1930’s, he bought pieces of land in the Jordan Valley, East of the River Jordan, and started his own fruit and vegetable farms. Those farms were the first man-made farms in Jordan and through the years became widely known as the oldest, largest and best quality farms in the whole of Jordan. Doing so, he was able to produce the quality he believed in (part 2 next)

A post shared by dimasharif.com (@dimasharifonline) on

Halal Gems
The ultimate authority on halal restaurants in London and beyond, this Instagram account provides the inside scoop on where to find the best food — they have got a great eye for hidden gems — with a mouthwatering parade of images of burgers, bakes, ice cream and desserts.
Dalia’s Kitchen
This stylish Syrian-German based in Dubai combines images of things she cooks up in her (equally stylish) kitchen with quick recipe videos and endearing family pictures.
Saudi Food Eman
Providing much-needed insight into Saudi Arabian cuisine — and with it, Saudi culture — this YouTube star has curated her Instagram account into sequential posts highlighting ingredients, recipe videos and the final product. The pictures are as bright and colorful as the food itself.
Halal Girl About Town
Going by her Instagram feed, HGAT is probably the embodiment of the location-independent digital nomad. Her feed is flooded with all the yum stuff she eats at home base London — from pide to pizza — and delicious shots from her travels.
Tazzamina
This lifestyle influencer has a great eye for top shots (cue, fabulous flat lays) for her food images, which she mixes up with fashion, luxury and parenting posts.


Next generation of biotech food heading for grocery stores

Fred Gmitter, a geneticist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, holds citrus seedlings that are used for gene editing research at the University of Florida in Lake Alfred, Fla., on Sept. 27, 2018. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2018
0

Next generation of biotech food heading for grocery stores

  • Scientists even hope gene editing eventually could save species from being wiped out by devastating diseases like citrus greening

WASHINGTON: The next generation of biotech food is headed for the grocery aisles, and first up may be salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil genetically tweaked to be good for your heart.
By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA “edited” are expected to begin selling. It’s a different technology than today’s controversial “genetically modified” foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer.
The US National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise?
“If the consumer sees the benefit, I think they’ll embrace the products and worry less about the technology,” said Dan Voytas, a University of Minnesota professor and chief science officer for Calyxt Inc., which edited soybeans to make the oil heart-healthy.
Researchers are pursuing more ambitious changes: Wheat with triple the usual fiber, or that’s low in gluten. Mushrooms that don’t brown, and better-producing tomatoes. Drought-tolerant corn, and rice that no longer absorbs soil pollution as it grows. Dairy cows that don’t need to undergo painful de-horning, and pigs immune to a dangerous virus that can sweep through herds.
Scientists even hope gene editing eventually could save species from being wiped out by devastating diseases like citrus greening, a so far unstoppable infection that’s destroying Florida’s famed oranges.
First they must find genes that could make a new generation of trees immune.
“If we can go in and edit the gene, change the DNA sequence ever so slightly by one or two letters, potentially we’d have a way to defeat this disease,” said Fred Gmitter, a geneticist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, as he examined diseased trees in a grove near Fort Meade.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED OR EDITED, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Farmers have long genetically manipulated crops and animals by selectively breeding to get offspring with certain traits. It’s time-consuming and can bring trade-offs. Modern tomatoes, for example, are larger than their pea-sized wild ancestor, but the generations of cross-breeding made them more fragile and altered their nutrients.
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals that were mixed with another species’ DNA to introduce a specific trait — meaning they’re “transgenic.” Best known are corn and soybeans mixed with bacterial genes for built-in resistance to pests or weed killers.
Despite international scientific consensus that GMOs are safe to eat, some people remain wary and there is concern they could spur herbicide-resistant weeds.
Now gene-editing tools, with names like CRISPR and TALENs, promise to alter foods more precisely, and at less cost, without necessarily adding foreign DNA. Instead, they act like molecular scissors to alter the letters of an organism’s own genetic alphabet.
The technology can insert new DNA, but most products in development so far switch off a gene, according to University of Missouri professor Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes.
Those new Calyxt soybeans? Voytas’ team inactivated two genes so the beans produce oil with no heart-damaging trans fat and that shares the famed health profile of olive oil without its distinct taste.
The hornless calves? Most dairy Holsteins grow horns that are removed for the safety of farmers and other cows. Recombinetics Inc. swapped part of the gene that makes dairy cows grow horns with the DNA instructions from naturally hornless Angus beef cattle.
“Precision breeding,” is how animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam of the University of California, Davis, explains it. “This isn’t going to replace traditional breeding,” but make it easier to add one more trait.
RULES AREN’T CLEAR
The Agriculture Department says extra rules aren’t needed for “plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding,” clearing the way for development of about two dozen gene-edited crops so far.
In contrast, the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 proposed tighter, drug-like restrictions on gene-edited animals. It promises guidance sometime next year on exactly how it will proceed.
Because of trade, international regulations are “the most important factor in whether genome editing technologies are commercialized,” USDA’s Paul Spencer told a meeting of agriculture economists.
Europe’s highest court ruled last summer that existing European curbs on the sale of transgenic GMOs should apply to gene-edited foods, too.
But at the World Trade Organization this month, the US joined 12 nations including Australia, Canada, Argentina and Brazil in urging other countries to adopt internationally consistent, science-based rules for gene-edited agriculture.
ARE THESE FOODS SAFE?
The biggest concern is what are called off-target edits, unintended changes to DNA that could affect a crop’s nutritional value or an animal’s health, said Jennifer Kuzma of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University.
Scientists are looking for any signs of problems. Take the hornless calves munching in a UC-Davis field. One is female and once it begins producing milk, Van Eenennaam will test how similar that milk’s fat and protein composition is to milk from unaltered cows.
“We’re kind of being overly cautious,” she said, noting that if eating beef from naturally hornless Angus cattle is fine, milk from edited Holsteins should be, too.
But to Kuzma, companies will have to be up-front about how these new foods were made and the evidence that they’re healthy. She wants regulators to decide case-by-case which changes are no big deal, and which might need more scrutiny.
“Most gene-edited plants and animals are probably going to be just fine to eat. But you’re only going to do yourself a disservice in the long run if you hide behind the terminology,” Kuzma said.
AVOIDING A BACKLASH
Uncertainty about regulatory and consumer reaction is creating some strange bedfellows. An industry-backed group of food makers and farmers asked university researchers and consumer advocates to help craft guidelines for “responsible use” of gene editing in the food supply.
“Clearly this coalition is in existence because of some of the battle scars from the GMO debates, there’s no question about that,” said Greg Jaffe of the food-safety watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest, who agreed to join the Center for Food Integrity’s guidelines group. “There’s clearly going to be questions raised about this technology.”
SUSTAINABILITY OR HYPE?
Gene-editing can’t do everything, cautioned Calyxt’s Voytas. There are limitations to how much foods could be changed. Sure, scientists made wheat containing less gluten, but it’s unlikely to ever be totally gluten-free for people who can’t digest that protein, for example — or to make, say, allergy-free peanuts.
Nor is it clear how easily companies will be able to edit different kinds of food, key to their profit.
Despite her concerns about adequate regulation, Kuzma expects about 20 gene-edited crops to hit the US market over five years — and she notes that scientists also are exploring changes to crops, like cassava, that are important in the poorest countries.
“We think it’s going to really revolutionize the industry,” she said.