Last Chance Foods: Miracle or Just Moringa?

Friday, August 23, 2013

The phrase “miracle food” smacks of low-budget internet ads that promise easy solutions to diabetes and belly fat. Recently, though, it’s been used to describe moringa oleifera, a tropical plant that native to the Himalayas.

While individual definitions of “miracle” may vary, one thing is for certain: Moringa is now available at the Fort Greene farmers market thanks to farmer Hector Tejada of Conuco Farm in New Paltz, N.Y. The reason Tejada and many other hold moringa in such high esteem is because it is nutrient-dense and easy to grow.

Moringa is high in vitamin A, C, and B, says Christopher Wayne, the beginning farmer coordinator for GrowNYC’s FARMroots program. It has a sharp earthy flavor reminiscent of radishes or arugula. He added that doctors throughout the world are recommending the iron-rich plant for patients suffering from anemia and investigating its benefits for nursing mothers.

“It has a higher nutrient value in certain cases than things like spinach and carrots, and has incredible usage as a potential poverty aversion nutrient piece,” Wayne said. “It grows in marginal soils, in very arid, dry, sandy soils. So in places like Africa and other developing countries, it’s really valuable and important to… anti-poverty and nutrition-based exercises going on there.”

The moringa growing in upstate New York is notably different than the stuff that grows wild in places like the Dominican Republic. Since the growing season for the plant is much shorter here, it must be replanted every year and only produces small leaves. Tejada says he’s going to try and move some plants indoors this year during the colder months, but isn’t sure whether they will survive.

“[In New York,] it’ll never produce the kind of large seed pod that it’s most famous for,” Wayne explained. “[It’s] a long spindly kind of horror movie finger-looking seed pod that’s really popular in soups.” Instead, he said that Tejada decided to adapt and just grow the leaves. It’s been well-received among Fort Greene residents, and Tejada often sells out fairly early in the day.

The leaves can be used fresh or dried. The dried leaves are used in tea or ground up and put in capsules. “The fresh leaf itself, which you guys still have a chance to go out and get right now... is really nice,” Wayne said. “It’s confetti-sized, so it can kind of be sprinkled on top of a salad. It can be added to a fresh soup as a garnish. We mix it up in a raw fava bean recipe and mixed in some… cilantro with it.”

Tejada says he adds some of the leaves to his morning smoothies. Another idea he shared is to use the leaves with sauteed corn. Get the recipe for that below.


Christopher Wayne

Hosted by:

Amy Eddings


More in:

Comments [13]

Ben Borkovitz from Chatham, NY

Glad that more and more people are hearing about Moringa. I first learned of it several years ago through a non-profit organization called Trees For Life, that teaches people in places where hunger is an issue how to grow their own trees and to use all the different parts of the Moringa Plant.

The founder Balbir Mathur, is an amazing man, and I highly recommend checking out this organization to anyone interested in this work.

Aug. 18 2014 09:30 PM

Moringa is the miracle tree for a reason.

Jan. 31 2014 09:24 PM
Lisa Curtis from Oakland, CA

It's great to see moringa getting so much attention! I'm the founder of Kuli Kuli, a social enterprise that makes moringa superfood bars and uses the profits to support communities in West Africa that grow moringa.

Check us out at

Sep. 01 2013 02:36 PM
Keith from New York, NY

I have been getting my moringa from a new York company called Got Moringa and they have the USDA organic and vegan approved tablets and tea, and they also have this moringa natural soap that is out of this world, it is handmade, and has cleared up my skin over the past few months. They have some informative videos as well on their site and some other beauty products. their site is

Aug. 29 2013 07:00 PM
Ibrahim M Alalim from Switzerland

We have the system and the materials to make Jatropha and other trees like olive trees and fruit trees to grow in one year 3 meter H and produce very good quantity of seeds.
We can send you the folders with pictures and official reports.
Eng. Ibrahim M. Alalim The Inventor, winner of the world energy globe award

Aug. 26 2013 07:01 PM
Rosalind McLymont from New York

I've found moringa to be amazing for good health. I've been using it for years. It gives my skin a wonderful glow. I use the powder from West African-grown moringa only - in sauces, homemade salad dressing, cereal, soups and on salads. My husband uses it daily at breakfast. He mixes a little powder with olive oil in a saucer and dips his bread in the mix. Make sure the powder is green in color and not brown. I've also used the tea -- crushed leaves in tea bags. Check out the videos at

Aug. 26 2013 06:37 PM
chidera from port harcourt

I have not head seen or know of moringa before.thanks so much

Aug. 26 2013 02:05 PM
Kathleen Turco-Lyon from Manhattan

Thanks for the post. I didn't know about moringa. Please keep spreading the word. I certainly will!

Aug. 26 2013 09:08 AM
Morninga Harvest from London

This article it spot on... But there is so much more out to know about Moringa... From high blood pressure to arthritis, increasing crop yields to purifying water. Every part of the moringa free can be used and you can add the leaf powder or fresh leaf to anything. At Moringa Harvest we are using moringa as part of our feeding program in Nicaragua to end malnutrition we are also experiment with growing moringa in different soils, climates and at high altitudes. In order to find our life giving work we sell Moringa powder in Europe, it funds moringa trees in Nicragua for some the poorest families in the Latin America. Moringa really is. Miracle plant and you don't need a recipe you just need to eat it daily.

Aug. 25 2013 03:35 PM
2nd Global Moringa Meet 2013 from Jaipur

After successfully organizing Global Moringa Meet 2012, Center for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel (CJP) is delighted to announce the 2nd 2 Day Moringa State of Art International Workshop viz. Global Moringa World – 2013 to be held on 21- 22 November 2013 at Jaipur, India. India meets more than 80% demand of Moringa Products and thereby enjoying dominant position in the World Moringa Scenario. The global Moringa Products market estimated to be over US$ 2 billion is highly dependent on India. CJP in its attempt to bring the Moringa fraternity together is organizing this 2nd International workshop to deliberate and focus on the growing and harvesting Moringa. This 2 days International workshop will also provide a unique opportunity for open discussions & exchange of views about the issues pertaining to Moringa business. More at:

Aug. 24 2013 01:11 PM
Hephzibah-Ene Anderson from Dickson

I am Moringa Mama, I have been raising Moringa in the US since 2008. I spent 3 years in Hawaii researching this wonder of a plant and so amazing what benefit it has. We used in in Missions like in Haiti and Jamaica. Visit my website for more information and we have capsules, powders, seeds and fresh leaves. We are raising Moringa now in TN. Call 615-90601592 for more information. www,;

Aug. 24 2013 10:38 AM
Michelle McCarthy McCarthy

I have never heard of this wonderful plant before,please send info. where it might be found since Iam in natural rood and herbs.

Aug. 23 2013 08:56 PM
sumukha from Short Hills, NJ

I am from South India, and Moringa is called Murunggai in Tamil where it is an ever green tree. It is indeed a wonder tree. we like to cook both the tender green leaves and the fruit. Ideally the fruit should be harvested before the seed pods inside it gets hard. Depending on the variety of the tree the fruit can get to up to 1/2 inch in diameter and up to some times more than 3 feet in length. Rather tricky to buy the seeds. They can be too tough or too tender both of which might not yield enough pulp.
In is very popular in south Indian cooking.
An interesting info about this, it is supposed to induce virility in men. Hence is either consumed in excess of or shunned for the above reason.

I see the seeds in South Asian Grocery stores, fresh as well as frozen, but I have never seen the greens. Wish I can get my hands on the greens here in Northern NJ.

Aug. 23 2013 04:29 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Last Chance Foods

Last Chance Foods covers produce that’s about to go out of season, gives you a heads up on what’s still available at the farmers market and tells you how to keep it fresh through the winter.


Supported by