Each ingredient inside every Pure Synergy® bottle has a story. In the case of our organic camu camu berry, it’s an adventure that spans two continents, several decades, various cultures, and involves important conservation efforts that have global implications.
It all started in the early 1990s, when The Synergy Company’s founder, Mitchell May, was diving into the deepest weeds of research about natural sources of vitamin C and other important nutrients — an activity his wife Jayne jokingly called “bog crawling.”
Camu camu berries (or Myrciaria dubia) had been known for several years in the scientific community to be one of the best sources of naturally occurring vitamin C. In fact, every 100 grams of camu camu has up to 6 grams of vitamin C — 100 times more than the amount of vitamin C present in 100 grams of lemons or oranges! The red and purple fruit are also packed with health boosting antioxidants.
The challenge was that these precious berries grew in one of the most remote and inaccessible environments in the world: the Amazon rainforest. In the 90s, they were eaten locally in the Amazon but were far from commercially available on a global scale. Mitchell was undeterred by this limitation as he dove into developing a commercial supply chain.
His intense effort was driven by his belief that we should have a naturally occurring source of vitamin C without adulteration from synthetic ascorbic acid and it should be obtained in a way that is sustainable for the precious Amazon ecosystem (learn the difference between Natural Vs. Synthetic Vitamin C).
First of Its Kind
During the 90s, much of the commerce in the Amazon was being done in an environmentally damaging way as the rainforest was being exploited for wood, paper, cattle, mining, etc. Over several years, Mitchell worked diligently to develop a first-of-its-kind comprehensive program to wild-harvest camu camu in a manner that sustained the health of the ecosystem, supported local communities, and created a model for sustainable economic activity and wide use of this irreplaceable global resource.
The wild harvesting and production practices were in strict accordance with Brazilian environmental laws and developed with the numerous environmental organizations to help create a sound regulatory framework for the program.
The Synergy Company team worked with our Brazilian partner to develop a process to create a unique and natural form of vitamin C. The local people would wild harvest the berries along the river at the precise times when they were richest in vitamin C content. The berries were then transported by canoe down the Amazon River to a waiting refrigerated facility where the berries were washed and kept at low temperatures. The camu camu berries were then processed, without the use of any chemicals, into a highly concentrated whole-food vitamin C powder.
Changes On The Ground
Once this process was perfected, our camu camu powder was combined with 10 other organic, vitamin C-rich berries and fruits to make our whole-food Pure Radiance C®. People loved being able to buy a 100% natural form of vitamin C without the usual corn-derived, synthetic ascorbic acid, and Pure Radiance C quickly became a best-selling product.
Over the years, however, conditions on the ground in the Amazon started changing. First, as camu camu became more commercially popular, even wild-harvesting practices done the right way became unsustainable. The berries were being over-picked, not leaving enough seeds behind to propagate the next generation.
Second, the wildcrafted shrubs were dependent on the Amazon’s flood cycles — they needed a lot of water but not too much. A bad weather or drought year could be devastating for the harvest, and climate change was making picking the fruit from the wild more and more unreliable.
The final issue was that The Synergy Company has always had a deep commitment to supporting certified organic agriculture throughout our entire supply chain, and we were searching for a way to source certified organic camu camu berry. The wild Amazonian lands could not be certified organic due to their vast acreage and inability to monitor all aspects required by the USDA organic certification program.
Wild-Harvesting to Organic Cultivation
Fortunately, environmentally conscientious camu camu farms began popping up within the Amazon ecosystem where they could cultivate the berries in a manner that was both ecologically sound and prosperous for the indigenous communities.
These were small farms owned by local people and their families who would participate in a co-op model where they could each tend to their small acreage then sell their crop to a local commercial partner. This allowed families and communities to have a means for economic well-being that overcame some of the logistical and environmental challenges of wildcrafting deep in the heart of the Amazon. It also gave The Synergy Company a source of certified organic camu camu: win-win!
Since a camu camu shrub takes years to establish itself, we waited patiently for some of these small farms to begin to transition their land to certified organic. With certified organic lands, the farmers have full control over their environment and can ensure pristine conditions. The Synergy Company played a pivotal role in the move to certified organic farming by providing early support, commitment to organic, and access to a sustainable business practice.
Because of our close ties and deep collaboration, we have been working with the same company in Brazil for more than a decade to source pure, certified organic camu camu berry concentrated to a minimum of 20% vitamin C.
Enjoy The Benefits of Camu Camu
Our certified organic camu camu continues to support the local communities of the Brazilian Amazon, just in a new and better way. You can enjoy the health benefits of this sustainably sourced vitamin C and antioxidant powerhouse in the following Pure Synergy products: Pure Radiance C, Organic Berry Power™, D3 + K2 Complex™, and Zinc Complex™.