CABELL COUNTY -- Most of us are familiar with saying a blessing before we eat, however, West Virginia's Department of Agriculture wants to get the word out to farmers and meat processing centers that there's an untapped market of Muslims who need help before dinner is even served.
West Virginia's Muslim population continues to increase and along with that a need for meats blessed under the guidance of the Islamic faith.
"The closest city over here for us it would be Cincinnati or Columbus and some people go as far as Detroit for this kind of service," says Dr. Majed Khader.
A huge expense to Muslim families who must eat Halal meat, or meat that's blessed prior to processing.
"When you start to slaughter the animal you have to say in the name of god," Khader adds. "This meat costs them twice as much since they have to get it from out of state.
Right now Rolfe's Meat Processing center in Ona in Cabell County is one of the few places that offers this service in the state.
"When the ritual slaughter is performed we have to incorporate them in the process and allow them to bless the meat before its slaughtered," explains Rolfe's Meat Processing Owner Jeremy King.
Besides the ritual just before the animal is slaughtered, the butcher must use sharp knives and minimize the amount of pain the animal goes through. After that the meat is processed just the same as it is for any other customer.
Due to the shortage of processing centers and farmers taking part in this process the Department of Agriculture believes there is a market to tap into. Ag officials really hope that West Virginia farmers will jump on the bandwagon here not only to help the state out but to also help the farmers bottom line. (MORE)