Dr. Tim in Brazil
When I was a young man, I spent nearly two years in Brazil, traveling to and residing in several cities in that great nation and getting to know the friendly and hospitable Brazilians. I also learned their language, was immersed in their vibrant culture and learned to appreciate their life styles. It was an enlightening experience I have never forgotten.
Upon my return home, I suffered from the malady that most expatriate Brazilians and many visitors like me can never quite shake---it’s called “saudades,” a kind of poignant nostalgia for Brazil and its people that never goes away. We simply miss the country and people and wish we could return.
One of the places we liked to visit, especially in smaller cities, were the outdoor marketplaces where farmers and other retailers sold everything imaginable including natural health potions and “sure-cure” native plants. Such markets were fascinating to me and I wondered if some of the plants really did have health benefits. It was in those native markets that I first heard of acai.
After many years of medical studies and my long -time podiatry practice, I made a life-altering change and began to study natural health plants and health-promoting remedies. I began to formulate a number of natural fruit juices and devised a unique and safer way, called Cryoflux, to make them more potent, pure and beneficial to human health.
One of the plants that I studied in depth was the Brazilian acai (pronounced ah sigh ee) palm, its seeds and fruit. I had read much about it, but it was obvious to me that I should go to the source and learn all I could about acai, where it grows, how it is harvested and processed. That meant a long trip, really an adventure, to the Amazon River jungle region of Northern Brazil.
For many years, Northern Brazil was an exotic, isolated place with a population engaged in simple agriculture, fishing, hunting and trade along the great Amazon River. Near the Equator, the Province of Amazonia is very hot and humid all year long and life is a struggle for many. Getting there involved a short stay for us in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where I met government and business people involved in the development of business opportunities in the Northern provinces.
Then we flew to Belem, a large city at the mouth of the Amazon River, where we discussed the acai business with agricultural cooperatives whose main business involves acai. Then we flew on to Manaus in the interior of the Province where we met people more closely involved in the acai business. While in Manaus, we tried a number of native dishes based upon acai. Some dishes were made into a hot porridge with fish or shrimp. Then we tried the desert made with cold acai and sugar. Every dish was delicious!
The next leg of our trip was upriver in a small, flat-bottom outboard motor boat that sped us along the wide Amazon. On each deep jungle river bank were thousands of trees of many varieties, including innumerable acai palms. Our little boat took us a good distance in nearly an hour of travel. We came to a small, one-plank landing where we met the acai harvester, a kind man who showed us the acai palm and demonstrated how he harvests the seeds. Keep in mind that 90%, great majority of acai, is wild-harvested by men like our host.
He fitted a rope in a figure eight loop around his ankles, and climbed a palm tree in seconds. Above our heads, he showed us a long branch filled with purple seeds. He cut the branch, but didn’t drop it, but carried it down and placed it on clean palm leaves. Then he stripped the acai seeds from the branch into a large basket. His normal harvest time is between 3 and 5 AM every morning so as to preserve the fruit’s moisture content and keep it cooler.
As soon as he has enough to fill his canoe every morning, he travels downstream to the coop processing plant where he is paid for his harvested fruit. The processing takes place as quickly as possible as the fruit is fragile and susceptible to the high temperature and humidity and can easily begin to rot. The ripe fruit is then carried by conveyor belt into a large vat of cold water where it is washed, then transported to a blender, where the skin of the fruit is separated from the seed. The seed is discarded, but it is really a seed capable of producing another acai palm. All that is needed is to plant it near the River and wait for it to begin growing. Every plant grows fast in that environment. Curiously, the small seed looks just like a coconut.
The skin of the fruit is the edible portion and it is the favorite dish for many Brazilians. The coops also freeze dry the skins into powder or a frozen pulp that they sell to many nations. Acai has become a popular source of antioxidants, vitamins and as a natural food supplement. It makes a wonderful, healthy drink that you will enjoy.
Here at Brazil Botanicals, we produce an Acai juice that is unique. It is stronger, purer and safer than any on the market, and it is reasonably-priced.
To your good health!