Meet a new berry: Goji Berries

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Picture courtesy of Gojoy Berries Inc.

The goji berry is native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, but it is now grown in many other countries as well. Gojis have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China, both as a culinary ingredient and medicinally.

BC Farm Fresh is catching up; this is our first year where two BC Farm Fresh member farms are growing the berries.

The goji berry or wolfberry is the fruit of Lycium barbarum. They belong to the nightshade family, so they are related to the potato, tomato, eggplant, belladonna, chili pepper, and tobacco.

In the English-speaking world, the name “goji berry” has been used since the early 21st century. The word “goji” is an approximation of the pronunciation of gǒuqǐ, the name for them in several Chinese dialects.

Nutritional value
Gojis are jam-packed with nutrients. Goji berries are high in vitamin C and fiber, and low in calories contain more carotenoids than any other food, have twenty-one trace minerals, and are high in fiber. They are also a good source of iron and vitamin A. One serving of about four ounces of goji berries even provides nearly 10 percent of the suggested amount of dietary protein, an amazing amount for a fruit. They have 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals.

Talk about a nutritional powerhouse!

This amazing little super fruit also contains natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Their powerful antioxidant properties and polysaccharides help to boost the immune system. Antioxidants protect cells against breaking down when they are exposed to elements like smoke and radiation. Studies have cited the high level of antioxidants in goji berries, especially zeaxanthin. It’s the zeaxanthin that gives goji berries their bright color (along with saffron and bell peppers).

How do they taste?
Goji berries have a natural tinge of sweetness with a very slight herb-like aftertaste. The complex carbohydrates that make goji berries taste so raise blood sugar slowly, so you won’t experience a sugar crash afterwards.

They also contain tiny seeds which contain fibre that add a nice texture to your snacks and meals.

How to add them to your diet
We are lucky to have fresh berries available the next several weeks; they are most often sold dried. Enjoy them out-of-hand, just like any other BC Farm Fresh berry. For a breakfast treat, try them in cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. Try mixing dried goji berries with raw nuts and dark chocolate chips for homemade trail mix. You can also drink your goji in the many brands of goji juice and tea.

Goji berries also taste great cooked with lean pork or turkey, adding a savory sweetness to hearty dishes. (Their vitamin C content also will help your body absorb the meat’s iron.)

To find farms that sell goji berries, please go to: