Recent years have seen a big buzz word around the healthy food market: Tibetan or Himalayan Goji Berries. One can easily see a red berry tree with snow mountain background in the goji berry website or in the packaging label. The author has done a lot of research in this area, and would like to unveil the "Emperor's New Clothes" for Tibetan Goji Berries. Let's first look at what goji berries are, then we combine "Tibetan" or "Himalayan" word with it.
Goji berries are also known as Lycium barbarum, or wolfberries. There is also a misspelling "gogi berries". It is a dark-red coloured sweet-taste dried fruit, and has similar size of raisin. It is even hailed by some newspapers as super fruit just because of its various benefits. First of all they are from China, and have been grown and consumed in China for many thousand years.
Chinese doctors believe it is very effective on kidney and liver disease, therefore they very often prescribe it to treat liver and/or kidney problem. They also use it to treat eye diseases because according to Chinese medical theory eyesight is governed by liver and kidney. Furthermore, as Chinese medical theory also believes that sexual capability is dictated by the strength of kidney, it is also widely used by Chinese doctors to treat sexual impotency etc.
Therefore if a Chinese man would like to take some medicine or tonic stuff to make his sexual capability better, such medicine or tonic stuff usually contains goji berries. But the Chinese usage of goji berries is more than that, they also consume it in day-to-day lives, for example, to use it with chrysanthemum for herbal tea, to add it to soup etc. According to my research I believe Eearl Mindell could be the first person who first introduced goji berries into USA.
Later this fruit also gained popularity in the UK and rest of Europe. Why is it getting popular in Western countries? Traditional Chinese medical theory is not based on molecular biology, but based on Yin, Yang, and Qi. When Western people discovered this fruit, they analysed its biological content, and explained why it is beneficial from the perspective of western medicine. It has been found that goji berries contain 21 trace minerals, 18 amino acids, Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and Vitamin E, much more much more vitamin C than kiwi fruit, much more antioxidants than any other fruit, much more beta carotene than carrots, and much More iron than spinach. Following are the short summary of its benefits: anti-cancer, anti-aging, weight loss, boost libido, enhancing immune system etc. For some strange reasons goji berries are mostly marketed in Europe and USA as Tibetan Goji Berries or Himalayan Goji Berries.
If you tell Chinese people that you want Tibetan Goji Berries, however, they will be completely confused, as they all know goji berries are not from Tibet or Himalaya, instead, they come from northwest part of China: Ningxia province. In fact there are also growth of goji berries in Julu Hebei province as well. But It doesn't mean that there is no presence of goji berries in Tibet, but means that there is no commercial farming activity of this fruit in Tibet.
The possible reason for marketing it as Tibetan Goji Berries is that fruit coming from mountain area usually has more polysaccharides content. Even Eearl Mindell admits in his website that goji berries are not from Tibet. Therefore we have to take this new clothes "Tibetan" or "Himalayan" off now. It is an excellent healthy food, but it doesn't come from Tibet or Himalyan area.
In the market you will also come across the word organic goji berries. Please be careful with your purchase of organic goji berries. The commercial growth of organic goji berries is not an easy process. It requires at least 3 years to get the land ready, along with other measures. So far the annual yield of organic goji berries in China is still not significant by comparison with normal goji berries, simply because there are not many lands ready for it. Therefore there is a big difference in terms of pricing.
So when you see somebody sell organic goji berries in eBay at dirty cheap price, would you trust them? In addition, please do not forget to ask for a certificate of organic goji berries which you would like to purchase. I would suggest to buy small packs of goji berries, as once opened, it will suck the moisture, and become soft. A daily consumption of 30 grams is recommended, though it doesn't matter if you want to eat more because essentially it is fruit.
Enjoy your goji berries.
The author is a writer and Internet publisher of healthy food and alternative medicine such as goji berries. Check out the goji website for more information