The acai berry, only recently discovered in the U.S., has been named one of the Top-Super-foods . It has many benefits that range from high,quick energy and even helping in the research of deadly cancers.
The Acai berry, also known by the name of Cabbage Palm, has been growing in the Amazon in a region called the Varzea Flooded Forest for hundreds of years, but was only known to the native people until recently when it has swept across the world as the newest of the Top-Ten-Super-foods. The Amazon Flood plains are so called due to the fact that the Amazon River overflows it’s banks and floods the surrounding area with more than nine meters of water.
The acai palm tree re grows with ease and even regenerates where human development has destroyed parts of the rainforest. Therefore it is easily maintained and grows for a long time, about 100 years.
The cycle starts in the rainforest. The acai berry palm, has a long thin trunk up to 25m high and a clutch of branches at the top from which hang ribbon-like leaves. Hundreds of acai fruits dangle from branches in clusters that look like nests of bluebottles.
The fruit picking is always done by hand. In the afternoons, the natives climb the huge trees, cut off the branches, usually with machetes and climb back down, as they have done for centuries. The branches are then loaded into boats and when the baskets and boats are full, they’re shipped off to the markets. The Acai berries are harvested in the months of August through December.
The berry consists of a large seed or pit, with only 9% of the berry being actual fruit. It deteriorates rather quickly, in les than a day, so harvesting and shipping must be done very quickly. Once within a processing plant however, it can go through freezing and will last 4 x longer. In the local markets and shops, store owners get a hold of the berries fresh and mix it with oil and water before being manually crushed and strained. They are then able to sell it quickly and it’s very fresh.
This super food is the staple of some of the poorest sections of the Amazon basin but is also very popular all across Brazil with people of all ages and status’. It is considered to be the single most nutritious fruit out of the hundreds of edible plants available in the Amazon rainforest. It has saved many families and hundreds of people from starvation and thus is considered incredibly important to not only the people of Brazil and starving families, but all across the world as it becomes more well known for it’s amazing benefits.
When a shop near his Copacabana home specializing in obscure foods started to import frozen acai, he began to incorporate it into his diet and also to encourage all his jujitsu students to drink it. The jujitsu boys were pin-ups with the best bodies: everyone wanted to know what ‘miracle’ potion they were drinking. Soon Rio’s surfers became fans, and gradually the drink crossed over to become part of beach culture. By the early 1990s, no juice bar could exist without selling it.
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