According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished. American organization Kuli Kuli is making huge strides in solving this global problem by harnessing the “superfood” powers of Moringa oleifera, a drought-resistant tree native to South Asia and widely used throughout the topics. Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Lisa Curtis, founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli about the potential impact of increased consumer support for moringa.
Food Tank (FT): For those who have never tasted moringa, how would you describe its taste and nutritional make-up?
Lisa Curtis (LC): Moringa is a green leafy vegetable that has an earthy, slightly smoky flavor. It isn’t as bitter as kale and, at the same time, more nutritious. One tablespoon of moringa counts as three full servings of vegetables and 50 percent of the daily recommended iron intake. It also boasts extremely high levels of protein, Vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C.
FT: The Kuli Kuli Recipe Contest on Instagram challenges people to get creative with moringa vegetable powder. Do you have any go-to recipes you can recommend?
LC: Moringa goes well with foods that are already green. Examples would be pesto, green smoothies, and guacamole. Baking with moringa is also a great way to sneak in extra nutrition! I put in my oatmeal, yogurt or add it to stir fried vegetables. There is so much room to be inventive with moringa which is why readers should get creative in the kitchen and participate in the competition before it ends September 1st!
FT: You could win the chance to travel to Washington D.C. and dine at Chef Jose Andres’ new restaurant, China Chilcano. Could you talk to us about the supportive connections and partnerships you’ve formed, like the one with Jose Andres?
Solving the problem of malnutrition is definitely going to require a team effort. In addition to the major humanitarian efforts by Chef Andres, Kuli Kuli has also recently partnered with the Clinton Foundation and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) to bring Haitain moringa to Amercia. This is a perfect example of how a program can be self-sustaining. Since Haiti has been in a drought for the past five years and moringa is extremely drought resistant, planting more trees there is environmentally wise, not to mention conducive to helping women earn an education, sustainable income, and more complete nutrition
FT: In addition to the Instagram competition, what are other ways people can support Kuli Kuli’s mission?
LC: Kuli Kuli is always looking for volunteer bloggers, team members, and advocates! The Instagram content represents an easy opportunity to achieve a large part of our goal that is spreading the word and telling the story of moringa’s influence.
FT: Your dream was to use moringa to improve the quality of life for women of West Africa. What can you tell us about the level of progress currently being made there? Do you see the influence of Kuli Kuli?
LC: Last year was Kuli Kuli’s first year on the market and within that time, we planted 60,000 moringa trees, put US$50,000 into the pockets of West African women, and educated 3,000 people in Northern Ghana about how to grow the plant in their own backyard. We hope to triple our success in the next year as we continue to broaden our scope.
Without a doubt, developed societies like America can - and are - having a positive impact on developing countries. Every time you go to the store (or kulikuli.com) and make a purchase, you’re voting for the type of world you want to live in.