Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Airline Takes Local Food Revolution to the Skies

Food
Airline Takes Local Food Revolution to the Skies

By Sarah McColl

Much has been written about the JetBlue business class menu designed by Brad Farmerie, the executive chef of New York's Saxon + Parole. "I'm in love!" one blogger gushed over the in-flight meals, which are a departure from the usual airline fare: a deviled egg with house-made sambal, bison meatloaf with blueberry quinoa or grilled avocado salad with salsa verde.


Even in coach and in the airport terminal, JetBlue brings more to the tray table than those (damn tasty) blue corn chips. There is, for example, a flourishing farm growing potatoes, kale, dill and oregano outside Terminal 5 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"Just because you booked an airline ticket doesn't mean you have a deep love of concrete," said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability, referring to the formerly gray expanse of concrete the airline's passengers used to look out at while sitting in Terminal 5—the area JetBlue "greenified" with the farm.

Her newest project operates under a similar ethos: "Just because you bought an airline ticket doesn't mean you want to eat junk food," she added. Or forget your social principles.

JetBlue is known for serving products from small, local New York food companies, such as Blue Marble Ice Cream and Brooklyn Roasting Company Coffee. Instead of hopefuls trying to get on board by cold calling the airline and sending samples, companies can apply to JetBlue's BlueBud business-mentoring program. The airline shares lessons it has learned over 18 years in social responsibility, sustainability and marketing. The program also looks at the challenges of serving food at 30,000 feet. Cabin pressure, altitude and dry air zap about 30 percent of our tasting powers. Then there's the tiny galley "kitchen." Farmerie fights against palate atrophy with vinegars, spices and Maldon sea salt and against space constraints with dry ice and sous vide cooking. BlueBud asks food companies to consider how their recipes might need to be adapted or the packaging changed to work in-flight.

"We'll walk you through how we look at food," Mendelsohn said, adding that there are plans to expand the program.

Hot Bread Kitchen was the first BlueBud participant. The company's bakers-in-training program helps prepare women for better-paying jobs in the culinary industry, while its retail arm sells breads from around the world, including nan-e qandi, heritage corn tortillas and naan. Hot Bread Kitchen's challah is now served in JetBlue's French toast.

At the end of the summer, Bronx Hot Sauce became the next small business invited into JetBlue's culinary world and the partnership has the potential to lift up people tending community gardens in the Bronx.

John A. Crotty, a Bronx Hot Sauce founder, works as an affordable housing developer by day. Through his work in the Bronx and the conversations he has had with people there, Crotty was struck with the way they told "the Bronx story."

"Everyone talked about the past and the present and nobody talked about the future," he said in a New York accent. "Why does nobody talk about tomorrow? I thought that was pretty shitty."

Crotty and his partners began to undertake projects in their buildings in the Bronx to inspire future thinking. There were education initiatives, arts programs and creative writing classes—but a vacant lot was what captured Crotty's imagination.

"It was such a shithole, for lack of a better term," he said. "There's garbage everywhere. It's awful. I said, 'This would be a spectacular place for a garden, right?'"

That garden planted the seeds for Bronx Hot Sauce. Since 2014, the business has distributed free serrano pepper seedlings to any interested community garden. At the end of the season, growers can sell the mature crop back to Bronx Hot Sauce for $4 a pound. This year, more than 40 gardens grew peppers for the hot sauce and Crotty said about one ton of peppers will be purchased from the community.

As Bronx Hot Sauce fans out from fancy little food shops in the city to tristate-area grocery stores—from Whole Foods to the JetBlue University cafeteria to a pop-up store in JFK's Terminal 5—Crotty thinks it can help people in the borough tell a new story in the future tense.

"When the people who work in the gardens—especially the younger people—see their product in big-time stores, it takes them out of the neighborhood they're in and puts them on a way bigger platform," he said. "It expands their universe very quickly." Even the sky is no limit.

Reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

The Västra Hamnen neighborhood in Malmö, Sweden, runs on renewable energy. Tomas Ottosson / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Harry Kretchmer

By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Extinction Rebellion protester outside the Bank of England on Oct. 14, 2019 in London, England. John Keeble / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Demonstrators from several environmental groups including Extinction Rebellion and Sunrise Movement demand broad action at a youth-led climate strike near City Hall on December 6, 2019 in New York City. Scott Heins / Getty Images

By Jacob Wallace

This story is published as part of StudentNation's "Vision 2020: Election Stories From the Next Generation" reports from young journalists that center the concerns of diverse young voters. In this project, working with Dr. Sherri Williams, we recruited young journalists from different backgrounds to develop story ideas and reporting about their peers' concerns ahead of the most important election of our lives. We'll continue publishing two stories each week over the course of September.

In the speech she gave at the People's Climate March in Washington in 2017, Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, then 15, told a crowd of thousands, "This [climate change] is not just an environmental issue. This is a race issue, this is an immigration issue, this is a feminist issue."

Read More Show Less
Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., places a flag at the COVID Memorial Project's interfaith memorial service to honor the 200,000 people who died due to coronavirus on the National Mall on Sept. 22, 2020. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.

Read More Show Less
People Have the Power - VOTE 2020

Climate-action nonprofit Pathway to Paris first launched in 2014 with an "intimate evening" of music and conversation after the People's Climate March in New York City.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch