Singapore Airlines' Latest Inflight Meals Are Farm-to-Tray Table
Some of the produce is harvested just hours before departure.
On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their own wooden aircraft three times, for 12 seconds, 15 seconds, and finally for 59 seconds. Despite its brief duration, those 12 seconds that Orville piloted the plane above a windswept North Carolina beach were acknowledged as the first flight, ever. The world's first passenger airline service debuted on January 1, 1914, with a 23-minute trip from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida. Although it hasn't been documented, we're assuming that the first complaint about the in-flight amenities soon followed.
Airplane food has been a punchline for decades, because most meals are flavorless combinations of rubbery vegetables, unidentifiable meats, and all-around awfulness. But the always swanky Singapore Airlines has just started serving a business class meal that would still taste fresh even if it were being served in a restaurant here on the ground.
Earlier this month, Singapore's flagship carrier introduced its 'farm-to-plane' meal service on its Newark, New Jersey to Singapore route. (The 9,521 mile, almost 19-hour flight is the longest in the world). Thanks to its partnership with AeroFarms, a vertical farm that's just five miles from the Newark Airport, it can now serve salad with greens that were being harvested when the passengers were lining up for the TSA.
"Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested locally, rather than shipped from thousands of miles away," said Antony McNeil, Singapore Airlines' director of food and beverage, said in a statement. "The only way to get fresher greens inflight is to pick them from your own garden."
AeroFarms' indoor farm is inside a former steel mill near the airport, and its vertical stacking methods allow the company to grow 390 acres' worth of aeroponic produce in a single acre's worth of space. The produce is all grown on a "specialty growing cloth medium"—not soil—and thanks to the carefully controlled conditions inside the farm, the plants mature much faster, sometimes in just a few days. Aeroponic farming also requires 95% less water than conventional methods. (There are also no herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides involved).
According to AeroFarms, some of the dishes that are currently available on the Newark to Singapore route include "The Garden Green," with asparagus, broccolini, avocado, hot smoked salmon, and AeroFarms mixed salad greens with a lemon vinaigrette; an heirloom tomato ceviche with cured Iberico ham and AeroFarms arugula; and soy poached chicken served with AeroFarms baby bok choi, zucchini ribbons, and sweet potatoes.
The next Singapore Airlines flight to get the AeroFarms treatment will be its JFK to Singapore route, and according to CNN, those ultra-fresh veggies might eventually make their way back to premium economy passengers too.
If you won't be booking a business class ticket anytime soon, AeroFarms sells its produce to restaurants and retailers under the Dream Greens name. Honestly, this might be the first time anyone has ever wanted to recreate an in-flight meal at home.