By Evan Delahanty
Editor’s Note: Evan Delahanty is the founder of Peaceful Fruits, a social enterprise creating snacks with açaí sourced ethically from the Amazon Rainforest. His company supports communities in both the Amazon rainforest and in Akron, Ohio. Our editorial team likes what Peaceful Fruits is doing so we invited him to post on our blog.
Açaí is the world’s favorite superfood, but what do you really know about it?
After living in the Amazon Rainforest and launching Peaceful Fruits, a social enterprise that makes healthy snacks out of açaí, I know a thing or two about it. The Wayward Post was kind enough to share part of that story in a recent piece, but some of you had more questions so they invited me over for a guest post to answer them!
Check out some common questions below and then my three rules for buying açaí!
What is acaí really?
Açaí is a Portuguese adaptation of an indigenous word, correctly pronounced “ah-sigh-ee.”
It is a fruit that grows primarily in northern South America on a variety of palm trees known as Euterpe oleracea. So açaí is actually closer to a coconut than a berry, even though you might think it looks like a blueberry or blackcurrant.
Açaí is an important part of the traditional diet of many indigenous tribes in the Amazon Rainforest and has increasingly found its way into the diet of the modern world as well, whether in a now-traditional Brazilian açaí bowl (açaí, granola, and yogurt) or as a supplement (açaí processed into powder or pill form).
Of course, my favorite way to eat it is as a dried fruit strip – but I admit I’m biased!
Why do people eat açaí?
Açaí is the most popular superfood in the world because of its antioxidants, healthy fats, and general nutrition. Basically, this is a super healthy fruit. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce free radicals in the body, which is linked to reducing cancer risk and the negative effects of aging. And healthy essential fatty acids are increasingly recognized as a critical part of our diet, supporting brain and heart health.
At times, though, açaí has been over-hyped as a miracle cure. Açaí IS an awesome, healthy food. It is NOT a magical silver bullet for cancer, obesity, or pimples (sorry!).
So is açaí really that good?
Yes! This is a delicious, super-nutritious fruit that is absolutely good for you! But, like anything, you shouldn’t be swept away by over-blown marketing. The further you get away from the fresh fruit, the more that nutrition and other benefits decline. Pills, powders, and supplements – even if they actually contain as much açaí as they claim – often have only a fraction of the benefits of eating the actual food. More processing equals less nutrition is a good general rule.
Is açaí sustainable?
Not all açaí is sustainable. Like other trendy foods like quinoa, coconuts, or palm oil, some açaí helps the Amazon Rainforest where it grows (and the people who live there) and some doesn’t.
So here are my 3 rules for buying/eating açaí!
1) Check out the ingredients information. If açaí isn’t the first ingredient, don’t buy it.
2) Ask about production to learn about how the açaí is processed and harvested – if it doesn’t feel wholesome, don’t buy it!
3) Stick as close to the fresh fruit as you can outside of the Amazon Rainforest!
That means stick to either slow-dried açaí products (like Peaceful Fruits!) or frozen açaí purees.
FYI, you can’t get actual açaí berries outside of the Amazon (it’s illegal and they spoil anyway), so don’t be fooled!
My favorite retail-available açaí is by AmaFruits; it’s high-quality pure acai, harvested and produced in the right way.
Evan Delahanty served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Suriname, South America – spending two years in the wild, Amazon Rainforest supporting local development. He is the founder of Peaceful Fruits, an up and coming social enterprise snack startup that makes fruit snacks out of açaí while helping to protect the Amazon and create jobs for people with disabilities in Ohio where he now lives. Learn more about Evan and Peaceful Fruits at or via there KickStarter campaign (lots of fun videos!)