In the U.S., we grow and produce millions of fruits and vegetables every year, but there are a few crops that we must travel beyond our borders to acquire. One of them is the nutrient powerhouse, the acai berry – a dark purple berry that grows in the Brazilian jungles. The acai berry is being praised by health experts all over the world for the comprehensive nutrient profile that it sports in such a tiny package.
A small California company called Sambazon, started by a few environmentally-friendly surfers, began selling acai products here in the States back in 1999, before the acai boom hit. But out of concern that Amazonian farmers were not getting a fair trade price for their acai crop, they worked out a plan with these farmers that would bring them more financial stability and would protect the biodiversity of the rain forest.
Now, acai farmers are promised by Sambazon a set price for their crop (about 25 percent above the market value) before the crop is harvested and in turn they must designate a piece of their land as an ecological reserve. This process wipes out the middlemen who were often known for buying acai crops at much lower prices than the farmer needs to recoup costs.
With the increasing demand for acai in all things from smoothies to vitamins, this sort of mutually and earth-beneficial negotiation spearheaded by Sambazon may be the new way that farmers, businesses and Mother Earth come together in a joint and prosperous manner.