Moringa oleifera

We have a Haitian friend who comes by periodically to check up on the progress around our little farm. We first met him when he answered an ad we had placed in the paper to sell some little male goats that had been born earlier in the year. He asked if he could walk around and look at everything. We obliged.

The Haitian gentleman was thrilled to see that we had chickens and immediately asked about eggs and old stewing hens. About that time, he turned and saw the moringa trees lining the fence. He ran over to them, shouting and laughing. I didn’t understand a word he was saying but he finally slowed down and reverted to speaking English. He was thrilled to see that we had moringa trees. He calls them something else, though, and I still can’t understand him when he talks about it. He asked if he could have some… and we said yes, in spite of the fact that we weren’t sure exactly what or how much he wanted. 

He began snapping off the new growth at the tip of each branch, about 10-12″ of it, stems and all. At this stage, the stems are soft and green. We asked him how he planned to use it. “Cook it, like spinach” was his immediate reply. “Cook it in soup with other vegetables” came next. He took a nice big bag full of it and was just as thrilled with the moringa as he was with the goat he had purchased.

And so, although we had only seen the medicinal side of moringa ourselves, we learned that in many third world countries, moringa is also a basic vegetable, cooked and eaten as an everyday part of life.

Not only the leaves are edible, the seed pods are,  too.

When they are young and about the diameter of your pinkie finger, you cook them like green (snap) beans. They get tougher as they mature but the seeds inside can be eaten like a nut, the white fiber can be scraped out and eaten, and of course, when they are completely brown and hard, they can be planted to start more trees. We’ve eaten the “green beans” and they are delicious. I have yet to try the other edible uses. The problem with eating the seed pods is that they don’t seem to be produced on a consistent basis, at least not on our trees. One year we see no pods at all, or hardly enough to supply us with seeds. Then the next year the trees are so loaded with pods that the tops are bent over toward the ground!

Nutritionally, moringa is a complete food. You could survive eating nothing but moringa. You would be healthy and slender… and ready to kill for a burger! However, as stated before, you would be perfectly HEALTHY.

Just take a look at these figures! Can you compare any other veggie to this?

Moringa is also used medicinally. It has been a staple medicine in many Asian countries for centuries. Researchers are only now working with moringa in Western countries and so far, they have validated many of the health claims that have been made.