Doug Rauch: Solving the American Food Paradox
Doug Rauch, the former president of grocery store chain Trader Joe's, had long been troubled by the amount of food, especially fresh and healthy produce, which was wasted in the food system. Simultaneously, he was frustrated by the paradox he saw in the U.S. food system: rising food insecurity, broadly defined as a lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times, concurrent with an obesity epidemic, suggesting that low-income communities lacked access not just to food in general, but to healthy foods in particular. Rauch believed he could build a non-profit grocery store model that took advantage of grocery stores' built-in waste and channeled that wasted food to be resold at a significant discount. Rauch faced significant challenges in the implementation and execution of his plan, notably legal hurdles related to selling products past their expiration date, marketing challenges, and convincing grocers to partner with him to combat waste. He had to carefully select a partner from a number of interested parties. Finally, he would need to change shopping, eating, and cooking behaviors of a community. In doing so, he hoped to leave a lasting positive health impact and a scalable model for change across the United States.