HEALTH

Meet Moringa: Kuli Kuli’s Superfood Addressing Climate Change

April 22nd, 2020

Kuli Kuli’s Moringa is more than just a superfood. In addition to its nutritional value, moringa is one of the most climate-smart crops—the trees grow quickly, are resilient to drought and climate change, can regenerate soil nutrients, and contain leaves that are packed with protein and amino acids. We chatted with the Kuli Kuli team to learn about the company’s journey to carbon neutrality and how moringa is aiding vulnerable populations and addressing climate injustice.

What is Kuli Kuli doing to honor Earth Month?

For the entire month of April, Kuli Kuli is leading a Plant a Tree campaign, in which we will plant a tree in Uganda for every Kuli Kuli moringa product sold! For this campaign, we are partnering with Teddy Ruge, our Ugandan moringa supplier. We hope this Plant a Tree campaign reminds consumers of the positive impact they can make when they support sustainable businesses like Kuli Kuli. We also released a short video that highlights Teddy’s role as a social entrepreneur and thought-leader in the world of sustainable food.

On Earth Day, we are also releasing our Climate Change & Moringa Report, which reviews moringa as a climate-smart plant—it absorbs carbon dioxide up to 20 times more than general vegetation! Kuli Kuli will also feature several blog pieces with eco-friendly ideas to celebrate Earth Month.

Talk to us about Teddy Ruge. What is his story and what does he represent for Kuli Kuli?

Teddy Ruge is one of our most impactful moringa suppliers—he’s also a social entrepreneur, professional photographer, technology innovator, former decathlete still holding three national records, and recipient of a 2012 Champion of Change Award from the Obama White House. Teddy’s amazing!

Teddy was born in Uganda, and grew up between East Africa and the United States. Teddy’s story is one of self-determination and incredible innovation; he envisioned moringa farming as an opportunity to sustain and re-energize his community. Since 2015, Teddy has been working closely with Kuli Kuli as a moringa supplier. His farm grows and processes the leaves into organic moringa powder, and in doing so, supports the livelihoods of sustainable farmers throughout rural Uganda.

Teddy wants to promote climate-smart agricultural practices by using intercropping mechanisms, increasing agricultural biodiversity, and supporting reforestation efforts. For Kuli Kuli, Teddy represents the powerful way that moringa can uplift rural communities and model the future of sustainable, community-supported farming.

Tell us more about your tree planting initiative?

We pledge to plant one tree for every Kuli Kuli product sold in April. Teddy’s 30-acre biodiverse farm will benefit from the planting of multiple species of plants, to help restore a healthy food forest of sorts.

What does it mean to be a climate-smart crop?

Kuli Kuli has already enabled the planting of more than 24.6 million moringa trees among 13 countries. These trees reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations, while also providing employment, a global market for moringa, and nutrition for hundreds of farmers.

Moringa is a climate-smart crop for many reasons. The trees grow quickly, are resilient to drought, and can regenerate soil nutrients. One study* showed that the rate of absorption or assimilation of carbon dioxide by the moringa tree to be twenty times higher than that of general vegetation.

Being climate-smart means acknowledging the reality of climate change, and mitigating the effects it brings, especially for vulnerable and rural populations.

How is moringa aiding vulnerable populations?

Almost half of the world’s plant-derived calories come from three foods: wheat, corn, and rice. This diet has contributed to a population of nearly a billion undernourished people. Nutrient-dense, climate-smart crops like moringa are critical to improving the health of humanity and of our planet.

As our climate changes, our diet must change with it. Creating supply chains based on nutrient-dense, climate-smart plants is imperative.

Many nontraditional crops such as moringa are farmed by women, while the “heavy” crops of corn and soy are often farmed by men. Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown estimates that if female small-holder farmers were to receive equal access to productive resources, their farm yields will rise by 20 to 30 percent; 100 to 150 million people will no longer be hungry.

When agricultural plots produce well, there is less pressure to deforest for additional ground, thus avoiding emissions and further habitat degradation. This also would avoid an estimated 2.06 gigatons in carbon emissions.

Moringa is also known as the “miracle tree” in many cultures. Its ability to grow in regions vulnerable to droughts makes it an excellent crop for climate adaptation and addressing malnutrition.

With a rise in demand for moringa, an increase in production and consequential consumption is occurring in the villages where moringa is grown. Kuli Kuli helps link moringa farmers with a global moringa market, thus incentivizing communities that struggle with malnutrition to invest in a nutrient-dense plant. In this way, moringa can nourish communities nutritionally, economically, and environmentally.

Kuli Kuli is working towards carbon neutrality. Why? What does this process look like for the company?

We believe in building a supply chain that is based on the principles of regenerative agriculture and fair trade practices. Kuli Kuli prides itself as a thought-leader in the field of sustainable food systems and ethical supply chains. We’re working towards carbon neutrality to serve as a role model for other food brands, and because we believe it is the responsible thing to do. Right now, we are developing a three-year plan towards carbon neutrality, and we’re also working towards eco-responsible packaging.

What are the benefits of incorporating moringa into our daily routines?

Moringa is a really convenient way to add nutrient-dense greens into your daily diet. You can boost any recipe with a teaspoon of Pure Moringa Powder or grab one of our convenient superfood snack products for on-the-go greens. I typically add a spoonful of moringa powder to my morning smoothies with frozen fruit!

Moringa is a complete plant protein and one of the most nutrient-dense plants on the planet. The leaves of the moringa tree are packed with protein, essential amino acids, 27 vitamins, and 46 antioxidants. Moringa is more nutrient-dense than kale, revitalizing, caffeine-free, and rivals the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric! Moringa is also rich in phytochemicals and vitamin C, and thus believed to be a worthwhile booster for the immune system.

We’ve also heard from our customers that moringa significantly increased their energy throughout the day. Some people are even ditching coffee for daily moringa, since it’s naturally energizing and caffeine-free. It’s also a great way to offer “sneaky greens” when making meals for kids, or any adults wanting a nutritious energy-boost.

moringa_smoothie

What are some fun recipes that use moringa?

Moringa has a deep earthy flavor similar to that of matcha. We have an article with 10 delicious ways to add moringa into your and your family’s meals. I’ll highlight a few of them here:

1. Make a moringa smoothie bowl. Simply can add one to two teaspoons of our pure moringa powder to any smoothie you’re making. We also offer smoothie mixes for when you are on the go.

2. Add moringa to any hummus, guacamole, or dip. Great for an energizing appetizer or snack.

3. Add moringa to overnight oats or morning oatmeal.

4. Add moringa to any soup or sauce—moringa pesto is a staff favorite!

5. Make a moringa latte.

For someone new to moringa, which Kuli Kuli product do you recommend they start with?

Our Pure Moringa Powder is the most versatile of our products.You can add it to any of your favorite recipes. I’d start with that and let the energizing boost be part of your morning routine. (Pro tip: start with one teaspoon in all recipes.) Our Wellness Shots and Energy Bars are also a great place to start, especially as a quick option!

*Villafuerte, L. R., Villafuerte-Abonal, L., 2009. Data taken from the Forestry Agency of Japan in Moringa. Malunggay Philippines, Apples of Gold Publishing, Singapore. 240p.

This article is related to: Brand, Farming, Sustainable Brands

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Lily CombaLily Comba has never met a baked good she didn't like. When she's not baking, you'll find her writing, taking a Pilates class, or collaborating with the editorial and social team as a Senior Content Writer at Thrive Market.
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