Kavita Shukla can save tons of food worldwide…using her grandmother’s spice recipe

Experts estimate that food spoilage reduces the world’s food supply by 25 percent. (© AP Images)

As a girl, Kavita Shukla was visiting her grandmother in India when she accidentally drank contaminated water.

Her grandmother’s traditional home remedy of herbs and spices worked, and Shukla stayed well. But as Shukla grew older and took advanced science classes, she often mused on the fact that her grandmother’s mixture of herbs and spices could kill bacteria and fungi.

Kavita Shukla (Creative Commons/TEDx Manhattan)

Shukla tinkered with her grandmother’s cure over the years. Even though a middle-school science project didn’t quite work out, she continued to work toward a useful application of the formula. Today, she owns the patent for FreshPaper, a sheet of recyclable, biodegradable and compostable paper infused with organic herbs and spices. The paper keeps produce fresh up to four days longer.

In 2010, Shukla launched a company, Fenugreen, to distribute her product. At first, she made FreshPaper samples by hand and gave them out at a local farmer’s market in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she studied at Harvard University. But Fenugreen’s success required Shukla to learn new skills like manufacturing, distribution, inventory and sales. Her efforts paid off: FreshPaper now is sold at U.S. co-ops, independent stores and major grocery chains.

Experts estimate that food spoilage reduces the world’s food supply by 25 percent. Reducing that figure is a personal mission for Shukla. Fenugreen donates FreshPaper to U.S. food banks and to small-scale farmers around the world with no access to modern refrigeration. “Our goal is to bring [FreshPaper] to the people who need it most,” she said.  You can watch Shukla tell her story on YouTube.

Let Fenugreen and other green innovations inspire you during Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17–23) and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Marrakech, Morocco (November 19–21). This story and others like it celebrate people who have brought their ideas to life and created economic benefits for their communities.