Baru, The Sustainable Super Nut
If a soy nut and a peanut had a love child, that would be the Baru nut! This delicious nutrient-dense nut is packed with antioxidants, tastes a bit like popcorn, and when compared to the same serving size of other nuts (cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds), the baru nut boasts more protein and fiber, with less calories and fat. They also contain high quantities of vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iron, making them a certifiable “superfood,” and a plant-based eater’s dream.
Aside from being delicious and nutrient-packed, baru nuts provide major environmental advantages over their nutty cousins. They also support small farmers and land owners in Brazil. The baru nut is grown primarily in the Brazilian Cerrado savanna, “one of the most unprotected savannas in the world, with less than 2% of its region protected in national parks and conservation areas.” The Cerrado faces alarming deforestation and destruction on a daily basis, primarily to support growth for cattle and agricultural industries. Local land owners are regularly offered large checks to sell their land for soy/grain production, cattle pastures, and charcoal production. Harvesting and selling baru nuts provides them another option for income, and a reason to keep their land and it’s surrounding ecosystem in tact. This is globally relevant, as the Brazilian Amazon and it’s surrounding savannas and rainforests are referred to as “the lungs of the earth,” absorbing a large amount of our carbon dioxide, and producing the oxygen we need to, well.. survive as a planet. Baru nuts also use very little water to produce (far less than any other nut, seed or legume we currently harvest) because they grow in the wild using rain water and moisture in the existing soil.
While baru nuts are on the pricier side, and are still slightly less accessible in American grocery stores, Darin Olien, superfood hunter and owner of Barukas (a fair trade baru nut company) is on a mission to make them a household nut. You can find them on his website or on Amazon (which, let’s be real, is even easier than going to a grocery store these days anyways).