Açaí (pronounced ah-sah-ee) is a species of palm tree native to South America, also known as the pinot palm. Indigenous tribes have cultivated its fruit, the açaí berries, for thousands of years for their exceptional nutritional and medicinal properties. Let's focus on this superfood, which is now exported worldwide!
Legend has it that several hundred years ago, an Amazonian tribe living in the jungle suffered from famine due to a growing population and a lack of food. The chief, Itaki, ordered the sacrifice of all newborns to ensure the survival of his tribe. His daughter, named Iaçá, gave birth to a child who, tragically, was not spared from this rule and was killed upon birth. One night, as she wept inconsolably, the grieving mother heard cries coming from the forest. On that moonlit night, outside, Iaçá thought she saw her baby at the foot of a palm tree. She rushed towards him, arms wide open, only to find her baby had vanished. The next day, she was found dead, embracing the palm tree. Her eyes, still open, gazed adoringly at the fruits of the tree. Chief Itaki ordered the berries to be harvested and brought back to the village. The tribe discovered that the fruit pulp was the solution to feed the entire community, leading them to plant palm trees throughout the region. Chief Itaki ended the sacrifices of children and named the tropical fruit "açaí", reversing the letters of his daughter's name in her honor. In the Tupi language, açaí means "fruit that cries", alluding both to the juice extracted from the berries and to the tears shed by Iaçá's baby.
Açaí berries are small fruits, about two centimeters in diameter, with a purple hue, resembling blueberries. They grow in clusters on palm trees found in the tropical regions of the Amazon, especially in Brazil, the world's leading producer. These towering trees can reach over 20 meters in height, making the harvesting process long and challenging! The berries are exclusively handpicked, sustainably and environmentally friendly, in preserved forest areas without the use of pesticides or chemicals. Therefore, these fruits are guaranteed to be organic!
While the açaí berry has been consumed by Amazonian natives for millennia, it only began to be exported to cities in northern Brazil in the 1970s. The fruit gained popularity in the 1980s, thanks to the founder of the combat sport jiu-jitsu, Carlos Gracie. This Brazilian martial artist is credited with inventing the açaí bowl as he came up with the idea of mixing açaí berry pulp with bananas to create a protein-packed, energizing dessert for his students. This preparation quickly won over followers from various disciplines. Surfers and fitness enthusiasts, in particular, were drawn to its numerous benefits. In the 2000s, the açaí berry began its journey around the world, starting with the United States. Nowadays, athletes, as well as foodies from all over the globe, love it. Once harvested, the açaí berry is processed into powder, sorbet, or puree forms to prevent oxidation. These products are most commonly used in smoothies or açaí bowls. Energizing and low in sugar, this colorful food makes a balanced breakfast and an ideal snack.
The açaí berry is renowned as one of the healthiest fruits in the world. It comprises 80% of a hard seed and 20% of pulpy flesh packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The fibers and omega-3 fatty acids it contains are beneficial for cardiovascular health and the immune system. This superfruit is also known for its ability to improve digestion, regulate cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and protect cells from oxidative damage. Furthermore, it's considered an anti-aging food, thanks to its polyphenol content, which safeguards cells against aging effects.
LA ÇAÍ is the official distributor of B.you açaí berries in Belgium. The brand offers organic products and guarantees eco-responsible harvesting of the açaí palms. Their range contains no artificial colors, stabilizers, emulsifiers, thickeners, or other artificial ingredients. The berries are handpicked in the heart of the Amazon and are immediately frozen to ensure unchanged quality and freshness when reaching Belgian plates. LA ÇAÍ has opened its first café-shop entirely dedicated to açaí in the center of Brussels, located at 33 rue du Marché aux Herbes. In this unique store, one can enjoy various açaí-based preparations on-site or purchase the delightful B.you products to take away.