Legend has it; there was a young warrior named Caboré. She belonged to the Indian tribe Tefés and was cherished by them for her beauty and courage.

Once, as usual, Caboré went hunting in the woods. At nightfall, she had not returned to the village yet. The Tefés’ concern increased as time passed.

The warrior Aipá, who most loved Caboré, decided to look for the young lady. For hours and hours, he searched for her in the forest, but to no avail. Finally, exhausted and disappointed, he decided to sit down on a bank next to a river stream. 

He was desperate and asked for God Tupã’s mercy: “Tupã, help me! Where is Caboré? Where can I find her?”

Tupã answered: “Brave warrior, I know your pain. Look at the water, and you will find your beloved Caboré”!

When Aipá looked at the water, he saw the mirrored image of Caboré’s lifeless body on the river’s surface. In a great calamity, Caboré was possessed and killed by evil spirits when she entered the land of Juruparís. Aipá fell into despair.

When Tupã saw the agony he was going through, he had compassion and transformed Caboré’s body into a great and elegant tree, to give consolation, life, and strength to the Tefés tribe.

This tree is the Brazil nut tree. 

 

 

Prachtbiene (Euglossini)
 Euglossini bee
Paranussbaum (bertholletia-excelsa)
Brazil Nut Tree (Bertholletia-excelsa)

Tupã was anxious to create the Brazil nut tree for the sole purpose of serving the inhabitants that roamed these forests because until today the Brazil nut tree can only survive surrounded by the natural diversity of the Amazonian region. For it to be pollinated, the tree requires the native Euglossini bee; and in turn, for this bee to exist, an intact Amazonian biome is needed.

More help is needed, however. For it to spread, the tree also receives help from the agouti. The agouti or Cutia as it is known in Brazil is a small rodent and the only animal in the world that can open the Brazil nut’s shell. And since the agouti buries everything it cannot eat at once, new Brazil nut trees can grow from what it leaves behind.

Goldhase (Agutis)
Agouti (Cutia)

If ever the Euglossini bee and the Cutia disappeared from this environment, the Brazil nut tree would be in grave danger of vanishing, since not even the savvy Chinese were able to cultivate the Brazil nut tree outside the Amazonian biome. The trees planted grew, but could not produce any fruit…

For its counterparts in the Amazon, on the other hand, the story looks quite different: An adult tree produces up to 20,000 nuts a year and can reach a high of 60 meters and might even look back at a 1000 year life. If we consider that a Brazil nut tree starts producing nuts at the tender age of 10, this means that an “old” tree can produce around 20.000.000 nuts in the course of its life.

Now, if we consider the fact that six nuts have an equal (or higher) nutritional value compared to 200g of beef, the total quantity of nuts produced by a  single tree, corresponds to around 666,666 kg of meat. Considering the losses during the slaughter of these animals (skin, bone, blood, etc.), the nuts correspond to 3333 cattle, or 3,3 a year.

Tupã’s mercy must have been boundless, not only towards the Tefé people but also the cattle.

But apparently, the financial managers of conventional farms, which are proliferating throughout the Amazonian region haven’t done their math properly, as the economic rationale causing the illegal, yet widespread practice of deforestation (also involving the Brazil nut tree), is not discernable.

 

Therefore, it can be safely assumed that the native inhabitants of the forest seem to have outsmarted the invaders…

Paranuss (Kapsel, Blätter, Blüte, Frucht)
Brazil nut (Capsulte, leafs, blossom, fruit)

However, as a venerated God, Tupã did not want to make things too easy for the people. Therefore, the Tefés’ descendants still walk through the humid and almost unbearably hot forest (between December and February), just to collect the nuts, which have fallen from the trees. During this activity, they have to be very attentive because a hard capsule containing around 25 nuts amount to a weight and size that is equal to a coconut.  Considering its size and weight, a falling shell containing the nuts is almost guaranteed to kill the unlucky person passing by under the tree.

Getting to the eatable part of the nut is no easy feat, requiring persistence and resilience: The capsule has to be cracked open with a machete at the collection site to avoid fungus or bacteria from entering the shell, which would spoil the nuts’ flavour, or even worse poison them.  The individual nuts contained in the shell are also surrounded by a hard shell (which would likely give average nutcrackers a hard time!)

Once all obstacles have been overcome, we can finally enjoy the single one of the most nutritious nuts out there, containing  plenty of protein and essential fatty acids (the good ones, that actually protect your heart from cardiac diseases!), selenium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, sodium zinc, manganese, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. All of that can be found in one nut.

We from TodaVida love Brazil nuts and the many stories surrounding them.

Much more important however is, to recognize something:

Eat Brazil Nuts = Save the forest

That’s why we have chosen to make the Brazil-nut our first product available to you here in Europe. 

By taking you on a small journey into the world of the Brazil nut, we hope you are just as excited as we are about protecting the forest through conscious consumption.

Now it’s your turn: Let us know who you are and what you think

Greetings,

Ben & Narja