The Amazon encompasses 1.2 billion acres on the South American continent’s north side of which the part is in Brazil and covers almost one-half of that extensive country. Tha matter of fact is, the Amazon and its fertile ground for various plants and animals that thrive in its exotic climate, that the products from the Amazon are better than what we call organic – they are wild. Things that grow in the wild are strong in their own defense mechanisms to fight against insects and all manners of combatants, as a result. Amazon products such as the Brazil nut, guarana, and the Acai berry being recognized for their complex makeup and concentrated nutritional values.
Destruction of the rain forest!
Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest reached its highest in the years of 2004 and 2005. Satellite photos show loggers burned and cut down a near record over 10.000 square miles of rain forest in 2004 alone.
One of the main reasons is the world demand for heart-of-palm which is a Salad Garnish. It was known, poachers were illegally chopping down 5,000 to 10,000 palm trees a week. This was just to get the 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 inch) section found near the crown of a 20 meter (65 foot) palm tree.
Just for this delicacy one poacher would have chopped down an average of 50 trees a day only to earn roughly $1 for every tree from which the heart-of-palm was removed. Once the heart is removed, the tree dies and rots.
The harvest of a palm tree that has grown for over 100 years has just enough of this delicacy to fill two 14-oz cans of heart-of-palm. This would retail in a supermarket for less than $5.00 per can. To feed salad bars and salad connoisseurs world-wide, is this worth such destruction of the palm and the rain forest? It is particularly a waste because the heart-of-palm has no particular nutritional value beyond its fiber.
This is not the case with the Acai berry which has significant nutritional density and the harvesting of it is a complete different approach.
Harvesting the Acai this way may safe the jungle!
Because of the huge interest and demand of the Acai berry, this has started to help the locals to realize that cutting down these precious palm trees just for a few inches of the top core of the tree was no longer a solution, and found that there are better options available. Every palm tree produces an abundant crop of Acai fruit twice a year. Within a few years, the value of the palm fruit itself exceeded by far the value of removing the top core of the palm just for the use as a salad garnish.
Therefore, a legitimate reason was found not to cut down those trees by harvesting the Acai berry another way.
Laborers now climb high into the 90-foot palm to collect what is known as the Black Pearl of the Amazon.
As these workers soon realized this type of reputed harvest every year or in some cases twice a year is a better way securing their jobs and increasing their earnings.
Harvesting the fruits from the palms is better for the environment because the palm will continue to grow for years. This was the way to stop unscrupulous loggers who destroy Acai palms for a quick profit.
This is opening another window of opportunity for the natives and showing them how to protect one of the best treasures they have, by saving the palm tree that gives so much towards people’s health.
Preparations after harvesting the Acai berry!
The Amazon River is long and wide and a boat can navigate it inland from the sea for over 3,218 km (2000 miles).
The river is providing the best opportunity to navigate barges for transporting and quick preparations straight after harvesting the fruit. The timing is crucial; if not properly cared for, the oxidation process begins and quickly spoils the delicate fruit.
Without a way to keep the fruit refrigerated or quickly being processed, it would deteriorate fast as just about every food does in the tropics. In the last decade or so, a reliable and cost-effective transportation infrastructure including large refrigeration facilities being established. The well equipped barges can navigate the river deep into the jungle picking up the harvest.
Barges equipped with such facilities where certain stages of processing been done and transported to cities close to the Amazon River. One of the most effective ways is to have the fruit flash frozen into large blocks and shipped to different destinations. Why flash frozen? This is the only and most effective way for the fruit to keep all its goodness and nutritional values.
The Power of Acai
As reported in the Journal of Agriculture and food chemistry, a study showing extracts from Acai berries triggered a self-destruct response in more than 86 percent of leukemia cells tested.
This study was one of the first of its kind performed by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science to show what people may gain from using beverages, dietary supplements made with the berries. There are many such reports of different health benefits. Therefore, there is no better reason for distributors and businesses being eager to use the name advantage of Acai.
Not all Acai products are equal
The label doesn’t tell it all. On the label it may say that it includes Acai, but how much does it contain? Also, was it preserved the way it should have been? Therefore, not all Acai products as shown on labels are the same, nor contain the right amount to have the effect it should have. How this berry is preserved and processed can have a dramatic effect on its overall quality.
Many labels on products listed as including Acai, but most have only a fraction of the Acai quantity and its antioxidant activity it should have. Some companies do not understand how important all the processing actions after harvesting is, or are just trying to save money in making shortcuts in the process.
About late 1990s University labs became more advanced in accurately measuring the amounts of specific nutrients in the Acai fruits and other foods. Only then methods of preservation being realized and became available, such as freeze drying that would contain its nutritional quality.
There are not many leading companies that have done their research and follow strict rules and guidelines into preserving and transporting this high quality product without losing any of its nutritious values.
Processing and preserving the Acai berry
The key to it is that the benefits of the Acai berry are delivered in the most effective and concentrated form. A process of freezing the freshly harvested fruit to preserve the fruit’s nutrients being performed at a very low heat temperature; this process removes the moisture from the berry – leaving behind pure Acai powder.
The freeze-dried Acai powder, on a gram-for-gram basis, has an ORAC of 1.027, I spoke about in the previous article. That makes it one of the highest of any kind of fruits or vegetables.
A product has been found and developed with one of the best health benefits for anyone who wants to take advantage of it. Now, more than ever people are stepping up to accept responsibility for their own health and for the food they ingest. Scientific evidence shows that the most powerful health advantages come from mother nature, and using natural food as medicine is the most logical step.
Public health officials are urging consumers to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day to get the all important antioxidants. Unfortunately, most people have very little knowledge of what antioxidants are and why they are important.
The other positive step is changing the process of harvesting, saving the palm trees and protecting the Amazon rain forest. It is not only for taking, it is also for giving back.