It looks like a big, ripe blueberry, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants and tastes like nothing you’ve ever tried before. The açaí berry is the new superfood everyone talks about. We met up with Macacos, the family company that brought it to Sweden.
By: Victoria Thoors Photos: Macacos
Açaí bowl, or surfer food as many call it, is a dish based on a Brazilian berry that has become one of the biggest health trends in Europe. Served as a purée in a bowl you might mistake it for sorbet, but this slush will give you much more nutrients than a bowl of ice cream ever would.
“It’s one of the healthiest superfoods. The açaí berries have 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries, contain high levels of omega 6 and 9, as well as twenty seven different minerals and vitamins”, says Camille Sucasas, one of the founders of Macacos.
We met up with Camille and her mother Andrea Sucasas at a superfood café in Stockholm to talk about açaí and to have a bowl for lunch.
“It’s no coincident that surfers and MMA fighters eat this after and in between practice. You get full, but not too full. You will still be able to move afterwards. Not that heavy feeling you get after a pizza”, Camille explains.
But why start a business based on a berry?
Camille and her brother David have always talked about starting their own company. Ever since they were little they discussed several ideas with their parents, and coming from an entrepreneurial family you could say it runs in their veins. As their Brazilian mother thought of starting her own juice bar in Sweden, the kids reminded her of something they always miss when living in Sweden, Acai.
”We wanted to bring one of our favorite foods, but it wasn’t easy, but we are a bit crazy and did it anyways”, Camille says with a laugh.
The açaí berries grow in the 25 meter tall açaí palm trees in the Amazon rainforest and nowhere else. It’s remote and difficult to get hold of. It took Camille’s mother Andrea about two years of research until she found a supplier who would help them to get pure açaí .
”Many claim to sell real açaí , but it’s either filled with sugar or mixed with water”, Andrea explains.
For how long have people in Brazil been eating açaí?
Andrea: We don’t really know, but for a very long time. The people living in the Amazon eat it daily and are super healthy.
Camille: According to a recent study from the US people eating açaí over a longer period of time never develop heart disease or some types of cancer. It can also help balance the stomach and reduce bloating and constipation.
We get interrupted by the waitress who serves us our very first açaí bowl. It’s served ice cold since the berries have to be frozen right after being picked or the nutrients will disappear.
“We have to make sure to freeze the berries within 24 hours and in order for us to know it’s done correctly we take part in the whole process from the picking, to testing and freezing”, Andrea explains.
We dig in to our bowls and it tastes amazing. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, mixed with banana it has a smooth texture and together with the nuts it enhances the earthy and round flavor that reminds you of raw cacao. One can’t help but wonder how the export of such a rare berry affects the bleeding rainforest.
Camille: We have to do it the right way to save the Amazon. We have to be careful and harvest the açaí like people have always done it, by climbing the trees and make sure not to destroy them in any way. Fact is you earn more money by selling açaí than deforest parts of the rainforest.
Andrea: Thanks to the strong acai culture in Brazil and the increased demand in Europe, we’ve managed to grow new açaí trees on over 1500 hectare where nothing used to grow. The Amazon is slowly recovering, but it’s far from its glory days.
Camille: The Amazon rainforest works as the lungs of the earth. If it disappear we might as well. That’s why our slogan is; ”We eat açaí because it’s good, because it’s healthy and to save the world”.
Want to try this delicious and perfect lunch alternative? Check out their webpage to find out where you can purchase and how to make your very own açaí bowl.