Along with the global trend, clean, sustainable and healthy food is increasingly appearing in people’s meals. In the tourism industry, hotel restaurants, airlines, cruises,… keep upgrading their menus with dishes using clean ingredients. Emirates also focuses on the culinary experience of passengers during flights, so it recently invested in a large-scale hydroponic farm called Bustanica.
Emirates, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has just unveiled the vertical farm Bustanica. Bustanica is capable of growing thousands of kilograms of salad for Emirates flights, located near Al Maktoum International airport in Dubai.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers, instead of fields that stretch horizontally. Not only saving space, these farms also use less water, no pesticides and limit the chemical fertilizers, becoming a green farming method in the global climate change era.
Safe for humans and environment-friendly
Said to be the world’s largest hydroponic farm, Bustanica is the first vertical grow site from Emirates Crop One, a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering (one of the world’s largest catering operations serving more than 100 airlines), and Crop One, a company in indoor vertical farming. Bustanica is managed by a highly specialized in-house team including agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists and plant scientists to ensure the produce is high-qualified, super fresh and clean.
Bustanica has zero impact on the soil resources, and year-round harvests unhampered by weather conditions and pests. The 30,6 sqm farm will save more than 250 million liters of water per year, compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output. The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximize water usage and efficiency.
The Emirates’ farm can produce over one million kilos of leafy greens that are free from pesticides, herbicides and chemicals every year. Besides vegetables, Bustanica also grows fruit. With more than one million cultivars, it will provide an output of 3,000 kilos per day.
The farm will offer passengers on Emirates flights and other airlines freshly grown salad such as lettuces, arugula or spinach picked right before take-off. Not only in the sky, consumers in UAE can also soon add these greens from Bustanica to their shopping carts at supermarkets. They can eat it directly without rinsing, or just washing it once if careful.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We’ve specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate. Bustanica ushers in a new era of innovation and investments, which are important steps for sustainable growth and align with our country’s well-defined food and water security strategies. Bustanica helps secure our supply chain, and ensures our customers can enjoy locally sourced, nutritious produce.”
Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer of Crop One, said: “It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large format farm is the manifestation of that commitment.”
Current in-flight menus of Emirates
The menus of this leading Middle Eastern airline is always praised and loved for its variety, elaboration, creativity and quality ingredients. Emirates’ chefs also partner with local experts to learn about cooking techniques, flavor, and design to serve the authentic taste of the destination even before passengers land there.
For example, travelers in the First Class will enjoy dishes made using local seasonal ingredients such as Australian Angus beef and Yarra Valley cheese, Italian olive oil and produce from local farms in Japan. In addition, there are inventive vegan dishes like zucchini tart, jackfruit biryani or vegan mapo tofu, chocolate truffle cake with roasted hazelnuts, etc. Moreover, they also have a selection of healthy options that contain low levels of saturated and trans fats, salt and sugar.
Or passengers in Economy Class will taste chicken dipped in a sundried tomato pesto sauce, and main courses served along with fresh fruits or a salad, crackers and cheese, as well as sweets of the day. They can also pair their meal with a selection of complimentary fruit juices, soft drinks, wines, beers and spirits.
With the Bustanica farm being put into operation, Emirates is expected to continue to upgrade its in-flight and on-ground menus as well as customers’ dining experience. They can eat clean, fine and healthy food grown within a large, sustainable and environment-friendly farm.
(Photo credit: Emirates)