Most of the world’s açaí comes from the Amazon rainforest. People risk their lives to harvest the fruit, climbing palm trees that can grow taller than 50 feet. And while açaí has become one of the trendiest superfoods in recent decades, small farmers aren’t seeing a lot of the profits. The açaí industry has also taken heat over reports of child labor. We went to Brazil to find out how the world’s açaí gets from the Amazon to smoothie shops around the world.
The açaí palm, Euterpe oleracea, is a species of palm tree cultivated for its fruit, hearts of palm, leaves, and trunk wood. Global demand for the fruit has expanded rapidly in the 21st century, and the tree is cultivated for that purpose primarily