Kickstarter for Baru Butter

Hi friends! We’re starting a Kickstarter for the production of baru butter in Canada. It tastes exactly like peanut butter but it’s peanut free and nut free, so it’s a really cool thing for kids, as well as the Brazilian Cerrado and the local communities living there. Please share and enjoy!

Is Baru Cross-allergenic?

Hi everyone! Today we’ll discuss a bit of the genealogy of Baru trees. A lot of people ask how close they are to other Legumes, particularly peanuts and soy, or even tree nuts due to allergy concerns. Is baru cross-allergenic towards peanut and tree nut sensitive people?

Well, short answer, no, and the answer to the Legumes question: barely related. Why? Bear with us. There’s more!

Our baru branch, Dipterygeae, is one of the basal tribes of the Papilionoid or Fabaceae family (the Legumes mega-branch). Dipterygeae branched out really early, and one could say baru is an “ancient” or “primitive” Legume! Check out the graph below to understand their branching:

 

dipteryxtreeYou can see more familiar Legumes, such as peanuts and soy, sharing a common ancestry and being phylogenetically “more recent” (~50 million years) in comparison to baru (~60 million years ago).

Having evolved in relative isolation from other branches, the baru tree developed its own traits, narrowly adapted to the savanna. It co-evolved over millions of years with local pollinators (Cerrado bees), and seed dispersers (birds and bats). It’s a one of a kind tree, completely immersed and woven in its ecosystem, the Cerrado.

IMG-20170414-WA0016

Baru tree (Dipteryx alata)

Ok. What about tree nuts?

“Tree nut” is an umbrella term that includes species from mainly Fagaceae (walnuts and hazelnuts), but also orders Rosaceae (almonds),  Sapindaceae (cashews) and Ericaceae (Brazil nuts). Other than sprouting from the ground, they have no relation with Dipterygeae or even Papilionoid, with distinct fruits (or not even), very different seeds and distinct physiologies.

It’s essentially comparing a bee to a bat and a bird: they all fly, but use very different means for that. Due to this genetic distance and unique nature, there are no known cases of cross allergies of baru and other Legumes or tree nuts. One could say they’re peanut-free and nut-free by default, but that also depends on how and where they’re processed along the supply chain.

Did you know? Baru Baron’s baru seeds are certified peanut-free and nut-free!

REFERENCES

Cardoso D, de Queiroz LP, Pennington RT, de Lima HC, Fonty E, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M. Revisiting the phylogeny of papilionoid legumes: New insights from comprehensively sampled early-branching lineages. Am. J. Bot. December 2012 vol. 99 no. 12 1991-2013

Sprent JI. Evolving ideas of legume evolution and diversity: a taxonomic perspective on the occurrence of nodulation. New Phytologist, 2007, 174: 11–25. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02015.x

IBGE. Manuais Técnicos em Geociências número 1: Manual Técnico da
Vegetação Brasileira. Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 2012.

Gupta S, Nadarajan N, Gupta DS. Legumes in the Omic Era. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.

Oliveira MIB, Sigrist MR. Fenologia reprodutiva, polinização e reprodução de Dipteryx alata Vogel (Leguminosae-Papilionoideae) em Mato Grosso do Sul, Brasil. Revista Brasil. Bot., V.31, n.2, p.195-207, abr.-jun. 2008

Wojciechowski MF,  Lavin M, Sanderson MJ. A phylogeny of legumes (Leguminosae) based on analysis of the plastid matK gene resolves many well-supported subclades within the family. Am. J. Bot. November 2004 vol. 91 no. 11 1846-1862.

Baru Seeds from now on! Enough of “Baru Almonds”

Hi everyone!

Today we’re gonna discuss the different ways baru seeds are referred to in English. See, it’s a tricky thing to do because there’s so much Culture Shock when introducing food in a market, and quite often the translation is only approximate.

It’s what happened with bilberries, marketed as blueberries in Japan in 1998 because nobody there knew what a bilberry was. A blueberry was then the closest comparison (let us bear in mind that this was during the early days of the internet, so information wasn’t as widely and readily available). The same thing happened with tiger nuts: not nuts at all, but tubers with a similar appearance to nuts, also sometimes yellow and “striped” (known as chufas in Spanish, and many other names around the globe).

There’s plenty of misnomers in the food industry if one looks close enough. But what about baru?

We can find many scientific articles and websites originally referring to baru seeds in English as baru nuts and baru almonds. Baru, however, is botanically unrelated to tree nuts or almonds.

frutobaroWhat? Well, this is Culture Shock at its best. Both words, almonds and nuts, in Brazilian Portuguese, can refer to edible seeds from a hard shell, except when specifically referring to walnuts or hazelnuts. It creates confusion even among native speakers!

The underlying reason for this lack of vernacular precision might be that Brazilians are not “big” on nuts and seeds, even when it comes to native ones such as Cashew or Brazil nuts. Except during Christmas, when it’s a tradition, we don’t snack on them that often. A reflection of this is that we’re not exceptionally creative with them in savory dishes when compared to other cultures. This may be partially explained by the Native American, African and Portuguese culinary heritage in Brazil, barely incorporating peanuts or nuts compared to Indian or Southeastern Asian cuisine, for example.

On top of that, Brazil has a wide variety of tropical fruits, growing all year round, all very affordable and literally everywhere. For example, there’s a Portuguese idiom referring to cheap things as “[something] priced as bananas”. All things considered, why would anyone pay attention to seeds and nuts?

Due to a complete lack of media coverage in English about baru, we at Baru Baron mistakenly decided to call baru seeds “Baru Almonds” when first started, after noticing the majority of online scientific articles referring to them as such.

In time, however, it proved to be a poor decision. Calling them so ended up being quite confusing for the public during demos, since in English, the term “almonds” refers to specifically Prunus dulcis, and nothing else. Not that calling them “Baru Nuts” would be so much better, since baru seeds are botanically Legumes and not tree nuts. And “Baru seeds”, again because of Culture Shock, didn’t sound right at first. Nobody calls them that in Portuguese!

It’s not too late though, and from now on we’ll refer to them as “Baru seeds” (or simply “Baru”) because that’s what they are after all. Our marketing material will soon be entirely replaced taking this terminology into consideration, as well as packagings and next products.

We also urge the Brazilian scientific community, when referring to baru seeds in English, to stop using the terms “almond” and “nut”, since they’re misleading, botanically wrong and take into consideration literal translations.

Cheers!

Resources

Invenire Market Intelligence. Berries in the World. Introduction to the international market of berries. SITRA, 2008. Accessed 01/06/2017 in: https://media.sitra.fi/2017/02/28141842/Berries20in20the20world-2.pdf

Sánchez-Zapata E, Fernández-López J,  Angel Pérez-Alvarez J. (2012), Tiger Nut (Cyperus esculentus) Commercialization: Health Aspects, Composition, Properties, and Food Applications. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11: 366–377. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00190.x

Wojciechowski MF,  Lavin M, Sanderson MJ. A phylogeny of legumes (Leguminosae) based on analysis of the plastid matK gene resolves many well-supported subclades within the family. Am. J. Bot. November 2004 vol. 91 no. 11 1846-1862.

RESEARCH: Baru Diet Prevents Obesity

castanha-de-baruA Master’s dissertation was published back in 2014 in Brazil describing the effect of a baru diet in obese women. Its conclusion? Eating 20g of baru seeds every day reduced body fat. It also improved lipid profile and increased antioxidant activity in overweight women.

Mind you, this is referring to a normocaloric diet.

The article has a wealth of information and comparative tables with other nuts and seeds. Furthermore, it also describes other effects from a baru diet, such as hip size reduction.

For those of you who can read Portuguese, it is even more interesting!

Check it out: Souza, R. G. M. (2014). Effect of baru almonds consumption associated to isoenergetic on body composition, serum lipids and antioxidant enzymes activities in overweight/obese women. (Master’s Dissertation). Universidade Federal de Goiás, 2014.