TIME Global Forum

Eliminating Waste Can Feed the Hungry—All of Them

Rodin is president of the Rockefeller Foundation

"The problem of food waste contains within it the seeds of its solution"

Imagine, if you will, a disaster movie monster wreaking havoc on the planet. Its thirst drains Lake Geneva of its water three times a year, its hunger devours a third of all of Earth’s food, and its breath emits greenhouse gases at a level outpaced only by the U.S. and China.

You can stop imagining now, because this monster is real, and its name is Global Food Waste. The good news is that we have the means to defeat it, because the problem of food waste contains within it the seeds of its solution. And in doing so, we can feed the 795 million hungry people of the world and save precious natural resources, too. This is why the Rockefeller Foundation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and enlisted partners around the globe—from large corporations to smallholder farmers, from celebrity chefs to supermarkets—to halve food waste globally, through an initiative we call YieldWise.

While we all have a role to play in ending food waste, the private sector has a real opportunity to lead in reaching global targets that seek to halve food waste by 2030. How? By taking stock of waste at each and every loose link our food supply system. Business can invest in technology to fix inefficient farming, manufacturing, transportation and storage practices, so that food won’t spoil before it reaches a restaurant, market or store. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables, whose minor cosmetic flaws have nothing to do with taste or nutrition, remain the wallflowers of the grocery aisle—but innovative supermarket chains in Europe and Canada are already helping customers embrace two-legged carrots and malformed tomatoes.

Confusing date labels lead consumers to throw away safe, edible food, which winds up in landfills where it rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide. But by working with policymakers on a new, safety-focused and consistent date labeling standard, we can stop this confusion as well.

Ending food waste isn’t an impossible dream. It’s an attainable goal that—through business innovation, policy and behavior changes, as well as organizational checks and balances—is well within our collective grasp. And with the private and public sectors working together, to benefit both the average consumer and the most vulnerable among us, we can and will slay that monster.

Read more articles from the TIME/Fortune Global Forum at the Vatican on the role of business in solving the world’s greatest problems.

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