We recently caught up with Darin Olien, Shakeology’s ingredient hunter, to learn more about his summer trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was checking in on the moringa farmers and their recent harvest. In case you didn’t know, Darin is one of Shakeology’s co-creators and travels the world to unearth the world’s freshest, tastiest, and most nutrient-dense plants, herbs, fruits, and vegetables for…you guessed it…Shakeology®.
Once we got Darin on the subject of moringa, there was no slowing down this passionate soul.
“One of the greatest things about moringa is that it’s a monster contributor to Shakeology. And while moringa wasn’t in the original formula, the beauty of Shakeology is that it’s NOT a stagnant product. The R&D team and I are always working incredibly hard at moving toward the betterment of this shake.”
What’s so great about moringa?
What is so great about this “elixir of long life”—as touted by locals? “For starters,” Darin said, “Moringa contains 46 types of antioxidants and 18 amino acids, making it a complete protein—which is a rarity in plants. Because moringa is so potent, it’s crucial to the health of those living in developing countries.”
Moringa is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Darin told us that moringa not only has 3x more iron than spinach, but it also has 4x more beta-carotene than carrots as well as 4x more calcium than milk. Plus, a ½ cup of cooked leaves contains 100% of the recommended daily serving of vitamin C. Wow, that’s some serious fuel for your body!**
Moringa helps curb malnutrition in impoverished nations.
Locals have nicknamed this superfood the Miracle Tree. “To them, moringa is more than food. It’s medicine. It’s hope for their children’s future. It’s a blessing from above,” explained Darin. He totally lit up when he told us that moringa is an absolute pure gift to these developing countries! And he’s right.
Not all moringa is created equal.
When it comes to all the ingredients that Darin has unearthed, he has put more time and effort into researching moringa than anything else. “I’ve spent countless hours of my life bouncing down a road to nowhere so I could talk to farmers and check out their product. And after just 30 minutes of their time I had to simply say, ‘No thanks’ and continue my hunt.” Darin said that he’s talked to more people about moringa, and has been to more places on this earth in search of the richest, purest, and most potent crop than anyone could ever imagine.
What makes great moringa.
“What I’m looking for in moringa sources that may possibly be used for Shakeology are plants with deep green leaves growing in rich, fertile soil. I examine the color and the activity of the soil and if it’s dry and clumpy, it’s bad. I look at what life is like around the moringa plants. What’s their spacing like and do the farmers implement crop rotation? These are just some of the factors I’m evaluating when on the hunt for the perfect crop.”
Darin told us that if you grow moringa in quality soil, it WILL thrive. “Moringa is not governed by a specific geographical area, it’s ALL about the soil. Then I look at the age of the plants. And while young leaves are extremely vulnerable, they’re also very high in quality nutrients. So finding the perfect crop of moringa is somewhat of an art. But you know it’s a good sign when horses can’t stop eating this stuff.”
Moringa’s harvesting and processing challenges.
Darin said that moringa is a very easy plant to grow, which is why it thrives in underdeveloped countries. “But you’ve got to remember that sometimes these remote locations present huge problems due to the fact that there is very little zoning or regulations for businesses in those places.”
Because Shakeology’s standards are so high, Darin’s team can’t just buy a bundle of moringa from a local market. “We need to know EXACTLY where our product is coming from,” Darin said. “There have been times when we’ve showed up to a potential ‘manufacturing facility’ and everything was being done under a tent or near cattle, and they’re washing the plants with well water. And while their bodies are used to all those microbes floating around, we would get extremely sick. And we permanently scratched that potential partner off our list.”
Darin is like a nanny cam.
Darin also checks on the farmers’ quality standards followed by Beachbody’s own Quality Assurance audit team to make sure they’re up to par with ours. Beachbody® evaluates the factory’s ventilation system and is even scrupulous down to what kind of paint is on the factory walls. “I must constantly check on, and visually see and talk to our growers, suppliers, and manufacturers. I need to meet them, shake their hands, and see for myself that everything is up to Beachbody’s incredibly high standards.”
Shakeology saves the day!
In Darin’s words, “I love moringa because nothing I’ve seen is as complete a food source as this stuff is.” And THAT is exactly why we put it in Shakeology.