Brazil Nuts originate in South America, not only in Brazil as their name suggests,but also grow in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guiana, Peru, and Venezuela. The bulk of these nuts that are imported to the US comes from Bolivia. They can be found throughout the amazon rain forest in massive trees called Bertholletia Excelsa that tower above the landscape. These trees can live to be over 500 years old and grow hundreds of feet in the air.
The nut grows inside pods that hold 10-20 individual nuts. The pods have a tough exterior much like a coconut and it takes an ax or machete to crack them open. In fact there is only one other animal, an Agouti, that can crack through the pod to eat the nuts. In addition to the pod shell, each nut also has an individual shell. These trees don’t start producing a mature crop until they are 12-15 years old, and because of this they are one of the few crops that do not rely on planned orchards for their annual crop. Instead these crops are harvested in the wild by native workers. This work can be dangerous since each pod weighs between 5-6 pounds and drops to the ground at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Often times harvesters will wait till most of the pods have fallen to the ground before they start their work. Another challenge in harvesting is caused by the weather in the Amazon. These nuts are harvested during the rainy season of the Amazon. To be a harvester is a dangerous job.
As far as nutrition goes these nuts contain a high percentage of fat. They have become popular among diets such as the Keto diet where foods with high fats are valued over foods with high carbohydrates. They can be a great addition to your diet and they taste delicious!