Our Responsibility to Acai

–When it comes to the acai berry, are we being rapacious or just thoughtless?—We do our best to eat right. We also factor in the environment, and participate in the eat local movement, or slow food one whichever better suits our sensibilities. Accordingly, we try to limit the carbon footprint we leave upon the environment. But what thought do we give to the people involved? The question acquires a certain importance when it comes to the acai berry grown in the Brazilian jungle. It is the staple food for many living in the Amazon regions. It is a protein-rich nutrient they’ve long relied on, usually beaten, diluted in water and eaten with manioc or other foods. It has been so popular around the world, popularized by Oprah Winfrey, Nicholas Perricone and Mehmet Oz that there is now a diminished supply for those who depended on it for food, and given how it grows, on palm trees, the supply cannot be quickly replenished. Where it is available in Brazil, it is now much more expensive and out of the reach of many.
If we try to be ethical about how we eat, then we ought to factor in the consequences of what we consume upon the people and cultures where it is grown. Acai may be a super food, but for us, it is a supplement, something to make us younger, loose weight faster, age more slowly. For those in the Brazilian jungle it is a staple, often a necessity. While our abstaining from acai and the now many products that tout it, will not directly help those in the jungle, it will dampen the profits of those exploiting it and as it does, they may relent or reevaluate its uses. A decreased demand would in a round about way help those who have depended on it for generations. That is not only possible for us to do, it can be considered our responsibility.