You fly in order to arrive at your destination, not to eat, which is why the airlines’ post 9-11 decision to phase out meals on most flights, unless you want to purchase them, is hardly a loss. Plus at a several miles above ground level, your taste buds have gone haywire anyway. But if we have to shell out a lot of money for a snack, let’s at least nix the nitrate-laden peperoni sticks and sodium-heavy snacks that only taste good during that desperate 3 a.m. munchies moment. One airline, however, has started focus on more tasty, healthful and sustainable options: JetBlue.

The New York-based airliner has launched BlueBud, a program that mentors small companies and start-ups that are interested in becoming new suppliers. The first “BlueBud,” according to the airline, will be a food or beverage company based in New York State that has a focus on environmental and social responsibility.

The chosen company will score quite the opportunity to become a chosen vendor for JetBlue. Participants from the firm will receive intensive tours of JetBlue’s hub at JFK International Airport’s Terminal 5, the company’s headquarters on Long Island and an orientation at the airline’s training facility in Orlando, FL.

Upon selection by JetBlue, the company is also promised access to many of the airline’s business divisions, including the sustainability, purchasing, communications, marketing and operations departments. The new vendor will also be seconded within JetBlue and will have access to work space and conference rooms—not a bad gig for a firm that may very well be working out of a shared kitchen space at the moment. The application process is open to interested companies now.

The winning food or beverage company will join a host of firms that are already supplying JetBlue with more natural or healthful products. The ice creamery Blue Marble, 2 Degrees Bars and Ronnybrook yogurt are just a few of the vendors from which JetBlue regularly sells food products on its flights. The difference can be seen on the ground as well: through a partnership with GrowNYC, a non-profit that supports New York’s local agriculture and farmers’ markets, JetBlue has also succeeded in local and organic products to be sold at stores in JFK’s Terminal 5.

Until biofuels can become a viable option for commercial aircraft, there is not much airlines can do to reduce their collective carbon footprint. But programs like BlueBud can at least raise awareness about our food supply and give small businesses exposure they otherwise would not have thought was possible--and let airlines make a difference in other creative ways.

Image credit:Doug Letterman

Published earlier today on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.