Rio de Janeiro
It was açaí that inspired our founders to start Sambazon nearly 15 years ago. This unique purple berry has a rich history in Brazil. As you can see in our most recent video, takes an inspiring journey from the Amazon Rainforest.
Every year we travel back to Brazil and up to the Amazon with a group of friends to share the experience of a region and berry that has been the inspiration and guiding light for our sustainable business practices. These trips allow people to see how we translate Amazon Superfoods into delicious organic products, meet the wonderful family farmers who earn a living from our market driven conservation model and help give back to the communities that shepherd this special place. This year we traveled with a passionate group of Whole Foods team members who volunteered their time to help us finish the construction of a new school that we were building in the village community of Limão do Curuá.
I was fortunate enough to travel along with the talented Scott Sporleder to capture Brazil’s scenery, its vibrancy, flavors, people and organic approach to health and vitality.
It all begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city and where açaí was first popularized on the beaches and in the juice shops throughout the city.
In Rio, açaí is served in smoothies and traditional bowls blended from frozen puree and other fruits. This is different than the villages of the Amazon where indigenous cultures have been eating açaí for centuries. Here, they use the fruit to make unsweetened thick sauces with an earthy flavor and often combine it with manioc flour to sprinkle on fresh fish.
We spent the day capturing some of iconic sites of Rio. First, we headed to Lapa to check out the Escadaria Selarón, a set of world-famous steps that are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed the work of art as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. The 250 steps, straddling both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods, are covered in some 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world.
Rio has such a distinct and unique topography. It has so many pockets of concrete neighborhoods and city centers broken up by towering monolithic granite peaks, valleys, bays, beach coastlines and the infamous favelas running up along the hillsides.
After Lapa, we headed across Rio to Guanabara Bay to check out Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar). Sugarloaf is one of several monolithic granite and quartz mountains that dot the city. Sugarload has a cableway allowing you to access its summit and see 360-degree views of the surrounding city, bay and Atlantic Ocean.
Finally, a visit to Rio wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the vibrancy of Ipanema Beach located in the south zone of Rio and adjacent to the well known Copacabana. With its beach goers and iconic mosaic sidewalk we finished our day watching a legendary sunset behind Two Brothers (Dois Irmãos).