The people in Africa are often hungry and poor. They can’t afford to buy food from the farmers who grow it in Africa. The African farmers grow food for Europe because Europe can afford to buy it. But, Europe wants perfection and rejects much of the blemished, ugly African food. Instead of entering into a system that allows that rejected food to make its way to the hungry in Africa, the food rots or is fed to animals.

This situation is one that the United Nations tried to highlight when they served a five-course meal made from ugly food for 500 delegates at the United Nations Environment Programme in Kenya last week. The produce used in the meal was considered reject-grade by European buyers. Farmers who grow the food often have orders from Europe cancelled if the produce doesn’t look good. It is good; it just doesn’t look pretty.

The purpose of the meal was to demonstrate to retailers, consumers and policymakers that so much of the food that gets rejected because it’s ugly is “not just edible and nutritious, but also delicious.”

This is just one example of the many ways that our global food system is broken. I recently did an interview with Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank for MNN’s Leaderboard, a new regular feature that celebrates innovators and visionaries who are improving our world. Nierenberg and fellow food activist Ellen Gustafson launched Food Tank, The Food Think Tank last month “to help fix the broken food system by being a voice in the fight for health-based agriculture, alleviating hunger and poverty, and stemming the tide of obesity.”

I wanted to point you to Food Tank because often when I write about food waste, I give you practical tips on wasting less of the groceries that you purchase, and that’s certainly important. But, Food Tank tackles the larger global problems with our broken food system and invites everyone from parents to policymakers to join them in finding solutions.

If you find situations like the one of edible food rotting in Africa while many in the country die of malnutrition unacceptable, you’ll want to check out Food Tank.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

United Nations officials served dinner of reject-grade food
Food Tank, The Food Think Tank, has launched to solve problems like perfectly edible food that rots because it's ugly.