How did you fall in love with Acai?
I first fell in love with Acai through my travels on the beaches of Rio De Janeiro where it is eaten religiously, local friends (carioca’s, as they call themselves) of mine said it was the best thing on the planet and after adjusting to its unique taste I simply couldn’t get enough of the stuff, eating it every day after a surf or a long day in the sun I just felt my body responding so well to this amazing fruit. You could see how the health and energy obtained from Acai blended so well with the Brazilian culture and seemed crazy that we didn’t eat this in Australia. It wasn’t until I got back to Australia in 2005 I realised all of the amazing health properties of this fruit, it’s no wonder I felt so good from eating it.
Teaming up with friends Andrew MacIver who discovered Acai in California and Jeremy Liddle who ran juice bars in Singapore we got together after traveling the world and RioLife evolved. We had seen the love for Acai in Brazil and also all over California where Oprah herself named it as the number 1 Superfood for anti-ageing back in 2004, it made complete sense to bring this great fruit into the diets of Australian’s. RioLife today is the most established Australian Acai brand in the country and merging with NuFruits in 2007 gave us great strength to the company. Nufruits specialising in all Amazonian fruits and were the primary supplier for all RioLife Acai products. As a group we now have some of the most knowledgeable Acai experts in the business and access to the best known sources of Acai, coming direct from Brazil.
Can you tell me about the traditional uses of Acai?
Acai was a staple for the local Amazonians for centuries they basically lived of Acai and fish alone. Being a very unique fruit, 90% nut, only 50% water and virtually no sugar the best way to eat it was to pulp it into a puree. It wasn’t until around 2000 that this fruit became mainstream in Brazil where it is predominantly turned into a frozen pulp, you will only see the actual berry if you go to the Amazon yourself. The traditional Brazilian style found on the beaches Rio and all over, is usually frozen pulp blended with Guarana another gift of the Amazon, Apple and banana. Which turns into a kind of sorbet texture and then pour Granola over the top. Given the heath trends and eating habits of Australians, Freeze Dried Acai powder was the best way to get all the goodness from the fruit into an easy to eat food that can be mixed with anything and still taste amazing, actually giving a bit more versatility to its use, using it in juices smoothies, cereal, yoghurts and all sorts of great meals.
What is your favourite way to consume Acai?
I love blending up a nice fresh smoothie with Fresh Apple/Mango juice, half a banana and mixed frozen berries and a BIG table spoon of RioLife Freeze Dried Acai. Sorry to sound cliché but to me that tastes like Rio. But if I am short for time like most mornings I also love it sprinkled over my cereal each morning.
How is Acai different to other “Superfoods”?
From a health benefits perspective we would have to talk about its very high antioxidants in fact Acai has one of the highest known ORACS (antioxidant levels) of any fruit. This is attributed to its anthocyanins and proanthocyanins which are renowned for their protective effects on the blood vessels. Acai berries also contain a blend of the heart-healthy omega-3, -6 and –9 fats, and plenty of fibre. There really is an amazing mix of nutritional benefits which has lead to so many reported benefits from our customers such as increased energy and vitality, glowing skin, sleeping better, increased sex drive and even weight loss!
Acai is one of the few foods on the planet that is completely untampered with by humans, it is still Wild harvested and never been farmed, Genetically modified, spray on or any of that bad stuff we like to do to our food. The berries come only from its first origins deep within the Amazon rainforest, some have tried growing in other parts of the word but simply, it is very difficult to replicate the Amazon it is a unique Resource of this planet and we are forever grateful it has given us such fruits as Acai. It really is no surprise this little berry has so much nutritional value. I really don’t know of any fruit that can give such great health to those who eat it as well as such benefits to the Rainforest it grows in and the communities that live there.
I’ve heard that RioLife is involved in sustainable farming or Acai berries. Can you tell me a little more about this?I
The Acai industry itself is sustainable, wild harvested it has put great value of the palm trees originally cut down for the vegetable in its roots. With demand on the increase Amazonians treasure the trees and the forest they grow in and see little value in chopping them down but ensuring they grow plentiful. It is also helping provide income for the people that harvest these little berries. The Acai fruit industry is regarded by Greenpeace as one of the few initiatives that are necessary to prevent the continuing destruction of the Amazon whilst simultaneously improving the quality of life for people living in the region.
Riolife is proud to say we take great care in sourcing our Acai the right way. Andre Scwob who is a local Brazilian and been living in the Amazon for the past 13 years, he is our supply and source manager who is very careful about who he buys from and how it is picked. It is of great value to have this kind of experience and knowledge as part of our team to ensure we are doing the right thing by the Amazon Forest and its people. Sadly we get reports of some US companies not doing the same in the Amazon.
How is the packaging process done to minimize loss of the antioxidants properties?
The packaging process from hand picking to a packaged freeze dried powder ready for Australia is a delicate process we ensure great care with. Being a frozen pulp and a freeze dried powder are really the only two ways to have this fruit in an easy to use edible form. Freeze drying the berry retains around 99% of all its nutrients with tests done before and after. We regularly test our Acai for its ORAC value and it is always very strong. Sealing our Acai Powder into foil bags helps retain its quality – encapsulated foil bags are they only real way to ensure no oxygen or moisture is getting to the Acai we have used plastic tubs before and it’s just not the same. It is important to protect the berry to retain its nutrients foil bags achieve this.
Your charity, Amazon Friendly receives 1% of retail sales. What is the charity all about?
Amazon Friendly was an initiative first started by Nufruits in 2004 for help support the local communities. A school was built in the Amazon for all the Acai harvests children who otherwise would not receive education. The money collected helps fund teachers’ salaries as well as supplying books and other teaching materials. There are plans to build a second school and Amazon Friendly will help support that also. There are currently 98 students attending the school they are also fed daily.
Follow Emmas Blog: http://riolife.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cb0590f3708391a11e1d4db4b&id=ca05fb194a&e=3452e8312a