CHARON: "The essential amino acids must be taken in through your diet and so having a vegetable that provides all the essential amino acids is a really valuable thing."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says poor diet causes many people to become obese and malnourished at the same time. Food without the proper nutrients actually causes the body to go into famine mode…which means it stores fat.
Two years ago, Jamie Ports was on the other side of the world in Malawi Africa. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she was introduced to the Moringa tree. All parts of the tree are used for food.
PORTS: "We were propogating the tree and then I was doing nutrition trainings. One: how to actually harvest the tree, and dry it and pound it and then how to include the product that they pounded into their diets and how to prepare it.
In Yuba County, 65 percent of the population is obese. Linda is a poor, barely-developed town that typifies some of the worst living conditions the county has to offer, including 17 percent unemployment.
FARRELL: It took me two minutes to see that giving people penicillin was sort of a band aid to living conditions that were sub-optimal. If I gave a kid with asthma medication and he went home to black mold and smoking parents and was exposed to second-hand smoke, anything that I was doing was just sort of superfluous."
EVANS: "You can extract the oil from these as well and you can use the oil for skin diseases and for cuts and abrasions."
PORTS: "We were thinking it would be wonderful to get this going here. We could give community members their own trees if they want them. Eventually, they could start growing it at their house, preparing it in their meals, and if we do nutrition training out of the café, then they could start learning about it and hopefully become empowered to have healthier diets."
Moringa Farms says the only downside of the young trees is their inability to handle frost. But if they survive their first winter, the trees' branches can be broken off and stuck in the ground where they will grow new trees.