Where in the World is Darin Olien: Hunting Superfoods in Senegal
There are a lot of countries to visit that people instantly recognize. Tell someone you’re flying to China and they instantly visualize and understand where you’re going and just how far you are traveling. On other hand, there are other countries that people don’t immediately recognize (or even know what continent it’s on). One of which would be Senegal (officially the Republic of Senegal), located in top portion of West Africa.
It doesn’t top most people’s travel wish lists, but it tops mine and here’s why: Senegal is the perfect place to grow the superfood moringa. Moringa, is one of the most nutritious foods on the entire planet! It is packed full of nutrients and free-radical-fighting antioxidants. This tiny leaf has been used medicinally (and as food) for at least 4,000 years. Its nickname is “Miracle Moringa.”
I’ve visited and tested moringa crops in India, the Philippines, Mexico, Cambodia, and Sengal.
It turns out that Senegal has both the climate and soil to grow the strongest version of moringa, a superfood originating in India. The Moringa family actually is made up of 13 species from tropical and subtropical climates, but they all look very different, ranging from tiny plants to tall trees.
The most widely cultivated species is Moringa oleifera, originally grown in the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India and later spread throughout tropical regions. Today it is grown in several areas of the globe to different degrees of success.
When the plants are tested, some climates and soils will create more nutrient-dense, medicinally stronger plants. One of those places is Senegal on the continent of Africa.
I’m flying into Senegal’s capital and largest city, Dakar, for several business meetings to set up a stable supply chain for moringa, so I’ll be working with local entrepreneurs and investors, an incredibly passionate farmer named “Papa,” and the local village and government – all aimed at ironing out the logistics of getting a world-class moringa processing plant set up.
While moringa is really easy to grow, but it is very hard to process cheaply without damaging its nutritional properties and accidentally adding toxins such as lead. Many big companies will add cheap, unhealthy fillers, and other synthetic ingredients to cut down on production costs. The world needs a pure source of clean Moringa and Papa, the farmer I am working with, has a dream to do that.
I want everyone to experience the benefits of this incredible superfood, but I’m also continuing my mission to create superfood sources that respect the food (which shows in how meticulously it is processed and results in a more effective product for the consumer), the farmer and the soil, and the source.
The only way to offer superfoods, no matter if it costs more or takes more time, is as a clean, healthy, effective, ethically-sourced product. It will never be the same as a regular item on a store shelf. It requires so much more care and commitment. We all need superfoods in our diets, so I’m more committed to creating trustworthy, pure sources than ever.
I’ll never stop researching the new nutrients and vitamins just waiting out there to be discovered! Sometimes this includes finding the perfect place for something to grow, like moringa in Senegal! You can follow my trip here (and other superfood hunting trips) on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Miss an update from the trip? Find all the posts here on this blog, my “social travel log.”
Off to Africa! 24 hrs of travel, anyone? Yay!
One more leg to get to Senegal! The perfect moringa growing spot!
Hello, Senegal! It’s good to see you again!
In Dakar (the capital of Senegal.
Giving a spontaneous nutrition lecture to help some aspiring Senegalese girls and boys at the NBA SEED Project (www.seedproject.org)!
Have you heard of the SEED Project? It is using sports as a means to identify, cultivate, and educate future leaders. Pass this organization on to help build support.
The sacred baobab tree…amongst land we are preparing for moringa!
Had lunch with this guy in a new friend’s nature preserve. He stole a piece of pizza from someone’s plate.
Heading back home to Malibu!
A good stay at the Radisson hotel in Dakar, Senegal.