A segment on MSN the other day highlighted the "Five Foods That Will Change Your Life," and one of them was acai (ah-sigh-ee), which is a berry from a type of palm tree in Brazil that tastes like a mix of grape and chocolate. It is loaded with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, and is increasingly available in pulp or powder form at health food stores, in smoothies and in sorbets. I found it at my local farmers market, of all places, from a nearby bakery that makes organic granolas.
I've also had acai in smoothies at a nice little shop named Robeks, which apparently is a fast-growing franchise that currently operates in about 17 states in the United States.
As for the other life-changing foods? According to the MSN report, they are:
* Alligator meat: Can be sourced from the Southeastern United States--that would be local, or at least my sister foodshed, for me! (But, oh yeah, I'm veg for a year. Oh well.)
* Laver: A type of seaweed, or the alternative name I'm seeing marketers call seaweed lately--an "ocean vegetable." Can be sourced from Maine.
* Yerba Mate: A tea-like drink, filled with minerals, that has the kick of coffee without affecting the central nervous system. From South America, it is traditionally shared communally. Not sure if the communal thing will catch on here, but wouldn't that be nice, to all sit around with a gourd and a bunch of straws? Or am I just crazy?
* Cupuacu: A fruit from a member of the cocoa family, the pulp is a sweet-tasting white butter used to make ice cream, fruit juice, jams and other sweets. It has been called a "pharmacy in a fruit" because of its health-promoting properties.
As for me? Five foods that changed my life:
1. That stalk of brussel sprouts from the Union Square Greenmarket that first turned me on to farmers markets. It was as if I were Alice dropping down the rabbit hole into a whole new world.
2. The first time I tasted a fig. Where had I been the rest of my life?
4. Sauteed kale, onions and apples. My older daughter and I stood there and ate it all out of that cast iron pan, and I haven't stopped on nutrient-packed kale since.
5. And, of course, I must mention the big breakthrough for me (because I haven't mentioned it in awhile)--the MVP of the Year-- lamb's quarters! Calcium-packed. Delicious. Free (it grows as a weed in my garden). It doesn't get much better.