By Sabina Perry '22
Q: What are acai berries and why should we care about them?
A: The acai berry was discovered in the Amazon long ago by the indigenous peoples. It was
introduced into the western world in the 1990s as a healthy fruit that had benefits such as weight loss — a very Western want for a berry, while indigenous people understood it had many more benefits.
Scientific studies have shown the acai berry to also have anti-aging elements, health promotion vitamins, and overall energy boosters — all adding up to increased life longevity. However, in order to benefit from these preventative health properties, you would have to consume a large number close to the amount the tribes in these Amazon jungles consume – and Americans certainly are not known to consume as many fruits and vegetables as we should.
Q: Why can’t we eat them fresh in the U.S., and what’s with acai powder?
A: This will be sad news for all of you who hoped to grow some 25-foot acai berry
trees in your backyards, as acai berries cannot be grown in climates and locations other than Amazon rain forests. Doubly unfortunate, because of their high content of fat, they are only able to retain their juices for 24 hours after harvesting. Therefore, they must be freeze-dried or made into a powder to be sent to other countries, such as the U.S., for consuming.
Q: Who came up with the acai bowl and why did it become a thing?
A: Acai bowls became popular in the U.S. first in Hawaii and Southern California, although
they have spread to pretty much all urban areas and cities on the east and west coasts. It was first developed in Brazil as a staple nutrition in a diet used for jiujitsu fighters (they are the ones who are trained to self-defend without weapons by the way) to maximize their performance. The bowls then spread to Hawaii and California, where surfers would eat them as after-session snacks.
Then, like everything else that becomes the thing to do, the acai bowl became popularized to the rest of us through Instagram, as its photogenic purple nature, topped with sliced fruit and coconut, makes for an aesthetic look.
Q: Where are the best acai bowls in the DMV?
A: Some amazing acai bowls I’ve run into in my, however limited, experience trying acai
smoothie bowls include South Block in Georgetown, Vitality Bowls in Arlington, and Fruitive by Mount Vernon Square. While you’re enjoying your bowl, remember that you’re technically being healthy and becoming STRONG like a jiu jitsu warrior!