“What is that, cat food?” I asked, referring to the plastic bag of reddish-colored bits on my colleague’s desk.
“No. They’re Goji berries,” she responded. “High in iron. I’m going to see if they work for the blood drive.” She, apparently, had just missed the blood-iron level required to donate blood.
“Want to try one?”
Never one to pass up a new food experience, I nodded. Picking up the bag—a small zip-loc with a “Whole Foods” label emblazoned “Goji Berries”—I poured some of the oblong, red-colored dried berries into my hand.
According to my research, Goji berries grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family. (I thought nightshades were poisonous—they sound poisonous. Obviously, I was mistaken). The berries are high in anti-oxidants and have been used in Asia for thousands of years to promote health, including liver function and fertility. The berries and juice are marketed world wide as health and/or snack products. I have learned that Trader Joe’s sells a Goji berry trail mix.
Despite this long and apparently esteemed history, I have to say that, as a food (as opposed to medicine), they are lacking. As my colleague put it, “they taste like raisins that have turned.” And they are very, very dry—like eating bark mulch from your garden.
As medicine, though, they are comparatively tasty.