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Village of Kolme, Konso, Ethiopia. Moringa yields at least four different edibles: pods, leaves, seeds, roots. Next to the green pods, foliage is the most important food product. People in various countries boil up the tiny leaflets and eat them like spinach. Taken all round, this supreme poor-person’s plant shows a remarkable capacity to help solve problems such as hunger, malnutrition, rural poverty, disease, deforestation, and visual blight. The leaves here are Moringa stenopetala, a cultural heritage and domesticated plant of the Konso people. In this region of southwestern Ethiopia its leaves constitute an important part of their diet. (E. Demeulenaere)

usually served as vegetables. Looking like giant string beans, but tasting somewhat like asparagus, they are highly nutritious. For one thing, they provide a good balance of all the essential amino acids. That alone is unusual in a plant food, but these pods also possess one of the highest vitamin C levels of any tropical vegetable, not to mention goodly quantities of vitamins A and B. And beyond all that they are among the best sources of minerals.2

Foliage is the next most important moringa food. People in many countries boil up the tiny leaflets and eat them like spinach—a spinach that nature has chopped to confetti size. In the Philippines, where moringa is exceptionally popular, these boiled leaves are commonly fed to babies. Nutritionally speaking, they are remarkable for methionine and cystine. Both are essential to health, and both are among the hardest amino acids for the


A current summary and analysis of moringa nutrition, along with an overview and information on cultivation and food preparation, is Fuglie, L.J. 1999. Moringa oleifra: Natural Nutrition for the Tropics. Church World Service, Dakar; available on-line at

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