Another poor man’s food promoted as a cure all
Maqui or Chilean Wineberry is a small evergreen tree that grows 4–5 m in height
in the wilderness of the Chilean Andes and adjacent regions of southern
Argentina, it’s botanical name is Aristotelia chilensis, a species of the
Elaeocarpaceae family. Maqui is sparsely cultivated and most maqui on the market
is harvested by the rural poor who are paid a token amount for their labour.
Maqui berries are harvested in late summer; April/May and they are traditionally
used as a supplement to the native diet where they were be eaten raw or dried,
or processed into jam. The berries that reach the cities are sold as juice, an
astringent or as an ingredient in processed foods or beverages.
Since their discovery by marketing companies, they have been made into dietary
supplements, mainly due to interest for colour and anthocyanin content although
anthocyanin is very low compared to other berries. There is some evidence that
maqui extract may be used to treat diarrhoea, inflammation and fever.