Grown-in-Singapore food debuts on luxury hotel menus

Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:52am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - In the heart of heavily urbanized Singapore, amid the high-rise towers and traffic, banana trees are blooming, chillis and bell peppers are ripening and parsley, basil and coriander are turning hotels green.

In a country which imports almost all its food and half its water, organic, home-grown produce is a real luxury, but one that's become more accessible thanks to a few high-end city hotels that have embraced gardening with a passion.

"Growing their own herbs allows chefs an opportunity to personalize every meal, from the initial planting of the seeds to the last garnish on the plate," said Walter Santos Navarro, marketing and communications manager at the Fairmont Singapore, which has since 2008 cultivated a small garden on its rooftop.

"Our facility produces the freshest herbs and staple ingredients for many of our restaurants, including lemons, curry leaves, bell peppers, lemongrass and mint."

Using more locally sourced, organic produce isn't really a new trend, and it's one gaining significance because of the environmental benefits of lower greenhouse emissions, particularly as nations wrangle over a new pact to fight climate change in Copenhagen.

But for Singapore, it's quite a challenge.

Singapore, a cosmopolitan Southeast Asian economic powerhouse that is home to almost 5 million people, is self-sufficient in eggs, but imports almost everything else, ranging from fresh and processed foods such as vegetables, fruits, meats and cheese.

Food is imported from as far afield as the United States and Brazil and even the Middle East, as well as from neighbors including Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, which makes produce -- especially premium organic -- relatively expensive.   Continued...