The acai berry, though only recently discovered, has been named one of the best superfoods to date. Its many benefits range from giving energy to even helping in the cancer research area.
Acai, also known as the Cabbage Palm, has been growing in the Amazon flood plains in a region called the Varzea Flooded Forest Region for many, many years, but was only known to the natives until recently when it has swept across the world as the newest superfood. The Amazon flood plains are so called due to the fact that the Amazon River overflows its banks and floods the surrounding area with more than nine meters of water.
The acai palm tree regrows with ease and even regenerates where human development has destroyed parts of the rainforest. Therefore it is easily maintained and grows for an exceptionally long time.
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The cycle starts in the rainforest. The acai 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 done by hand. In the afternoons, the locals 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 riverboats and when the baskets and boats are full, theyre shipped off to the local processing center or the markets. The harvest period is from August through December.
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The berry consists of a large seed or pit, with only 10% of the berry being actual fruit. It deteriorates rather quickly, in a matter of only 24 hours, so harvesting and shipping must be done quickly. Once within a facility however, it can go through freezing and will last 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 its very fresh.
This superfood 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 its amazing benefits.
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When a shop near his Copacabana home specialising 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.