In the highlands of northwest China, a land rich in wealth stretches. There, on the banks of the Yellow River, and in the fog-sloping foothills of the Liopan Mountains, residents of Ningxia have for centuries cultivated one of the most desirable types of food in Asia.
The talk here is of a kind of berries, the fruits of which are small in size and oval in shape, and they are called “red diamond”, in light of the prevailing belief, that they contain anti-aging elements. This species, called “goji berries”, has gained international standing recently as a food rich in ingredients that are highly beneficial to human health. As for the Chinese have used the fruits of “goji berries” in medication since the third century AD.
Although the “red diamond” is cultivated throughout China, the unique terrain of Ningxia has resulted in the fruits being cultivated there the best of all, compared to its counterparts in any other region.
Evan Guo, director of sales at a farm specializing in organic farming for “goji berries”, says the conditions in this region are “a mixture between the cool breeze, which dominates the mountainous areas, and the mineral-rich soils and water irrigated by the famous Yellow River.” He added that all of this is of great value to the berries grown in the Ningxia region.
It is noteworthy that the farmers of this region are still harvesting their crops from that type of fruit, as was the case, which has been used throughout history. In the period between July and September of each year, farm workers line up in front of shrubs, the height of which does not exceed the height of the adult human, to reap the ripe fruits of ripe berries in red color.
You can then see them busy skillfully picking a bunch of berries each time, and putting them in a woven basket of bamboo.
The love story that brings the Chinese with this kind of berries goes back hundreds of years. For a long time, traditional medicine practitioners in this country have believed that “goji berries” contain significant medical benefits. His first mention was made on the pages of an ancient volume on herbal medication in China, called “Medicinal Herbal Extract”, and was written by a famous expert in this field, called Li Shijin in the sixteenth century.
Zhang Ruifen, who practices traditional Chinese medicine in a clinic with branches in China, Malaysia and Singapore, says the author of this huge book “explained the form of every herb in it, and how one should use it”.
The Chinese consider “goji berries” both fruit and herb. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are advised to take it, as it contains large amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants and amino acids along with a number of rare minerals. They see it as contributing to improving liver and kidney functions.
“Chinese mothers might tell their children that they need to eat ‘goji berries’ because it is beneficial to the eyes because it contains carotene,” says Zhang. “But I would recommend taking it to strengthen the liver and kidney system, which traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe is part of the eyes.”
The Chinese – men and women – add pieces of dried goji berries to some foods and drinks to take advantage of the vitamins it contains. Among those dining colors is a meal of traditional soup, consisting of chicken, red dates and ginger. Drinks, for example, include tulips.
But Zhang stresses that she does not advise patients to eat this type of berries alone, but rather puts them under a variety of other powerful herbs, saying “We do not make the treatment program usually depend entirely on one type of herbs.”
However, there are conditions that Zhang advises those with it, not to eat that berries at all, in order not to aggravate what they suffer from. Among these cases are high fever, inflammation, sore throat or diarrhea. In this case, Zhang says, she advises patients to avoid taking “goji berries” for a while.
A long time ago, this type of berry was part of Chinese culture. Perhaps it is necessary here to refer to a legend that says that a doctor visited more than two thousand years ago, a village more than 100 years old, and discovered that they all drank from a well surrounded by “goji bushes”.
According to legend, the fruits of berries fall into the well when they reach the maturity stage, which leads to the water absorbing the vitamins that are in them densely, and this is beneficial to those who eventually drink from them.
There is also another ancient story that indicates that an expert in herbs, who lived in the seventeenth century and called Li Chen Young, continued to eat “goji berries” daily, until he died at the age of 252 years.
And if the above is not enough to encourage the young people in China to eat that traditional soup to which “goji berries” are added, they will find their mothers tell them that eating an entire meal of this color of food will spare them from wearing glasses!
But the passage of time left its mark on the fruits of the “red diamond”. After being part of Chinese culture, it is now seen in China and abroad as a food rich in health-most important elements.
So you will find that the young generation in Asia is highly celebrating “goji berries”, in its own way. Sons of what is known as “generation z”, the next generation of millennials, are now buying boilers called “wellness kettles” to make “goji berries” in them. In the opinion of these parents, these boilers may seem just traditional utensils that were originally used to make soups; they were repackaged by some companies, and a pink color was used to make them more suitable – in the eyes of the young people who buy them – to publish their photos on applications such as Instagram.
A study conducted in 2019 on the next generation of millennials in China showed that his children see that enjoying a healthy life is a priority for them that progresses on such things as earning money, achieving professional success, and feeling the enjoyment of personality and family formation.
This type of berries gained popularity outside of China. Perhaps that is why Western consumers are so obsessed with what is known as “superfood”, a term given to “healthier foods because they are rich in beneficial nutrients”, they pay up to $ 10 USD to buy a box of it, which is almost three times the The price of the box itself in Asia.
This high price encourages farmers to do their best to ensure that their crops reach the supermarket shelves as quickly as possible. The annual crop yield for farmers in Ningxia from “goji berries” is approximately 180,000 tons, and most of it is sold as dried berries, due to the short shelf life of fresh berries. The high temperatures during the summer season cause the berries to ripen quickly, which means that the farmers must rush to collect them from their fields.
After the way the berries were dried in the past, by leaving them to dry on large trays in the sun, the use of modern technology helps us accelerate the pace of this process to meet the increasing demand.
And if we go back to the farm that we talked about at the beginning of these lines, which uses the method of organic farming to grow “goji berries”, we will find that it was established eight years ago, by In Wijun, who is the son of farmers for this type of berry. This man has built a laboratory of the latest specifications, the berries harvested from his farm and his peer farms can be dried in a short period of time.
In any case, it does not seem that the luster of the “red diamond” will soon fade. On the last “bachelors day” – a shopping day that falls in China on November 11 of each year and is equivalent to “black Friday” in the West – record quantities were sold out It amounted to 179 tons. Asian experts say that the latest trends among residents of this continent, such as Amrita Banta, general manager of Agility Strategies and Research, are also monitoring the interest of young Asian adults to have a healthier lifestyle.
She notes in this regard that “after many years of Chinese consumers avoiding everything that is made in their country, as they do not agree – in their opinion – with modern science and also outdated, we now see that in China there is a renewed feeling of pride in many traditional products and practices “.
But at the same time, she said, the popularity of “goji berries” comes “against the backdrop of global awareness of its qualities and characteristics. Young Chinese eat it today, because they consider it a nutritious food with health benefits because it is packed with nutrients, not necessarily because traditional Chinese medicine practitioners say it treats Eye, liver, and kidney diseases. It is amazing to see China feel very proud of its past, and that at the same time it means that it is closely related to the rest of the world.
On the other hand, young chefs in Asia add “goji berries” to the ingredients of their dishes to give them some local flavor. Among them is chef Anna Lim, who did not hesitate to do so when she was invited to prepare a color of food suitable for breakfast, to be served for a limited time in the famous “McDonald’s” fast food restaurants. For this purpose, Lim devised a delicious porridge to which “red diamonds” were added, formed according to the popularity of Singapore, to the extent that it was added to the list of meals available in McDonald’s restaurants there permanently.
“The porridge acquires a naturally sweet taste, when added to it ‘goji berries`. And this dish turns into a colorful meal, through its mixture of green coriander, white tofu and” goji berries “, Lim says. Red, what makes this simple rice porridge, healthy and nutrient rich. ”
While a chef like Anna Lim helps make this kind of fruit popular with the young generation, other chefs like Zhang Hunzhong, who works at a restaurant in a Hong Kong hotel, provide Asian family customers with the opportunity to enjoy those colors of food, The traditional way they are used to in their mothers ’homes.
While preparing soup made in a technique known as “double boiling,” Zhang sets his sights on traditional Chinese medicine practices and what his experts recommend. Therefore, his team of assistants works daily to cut the health food ingredients and put them in a ceramic bowl, which is dipped in another container full of boiling water. Preparing food in such a slow, slow pace is a sign of appreciation for traditional Chinese medicine and for farmers harvesting “goji berries” from their fields.
The use of the “double boiling” method, Zhang says, “ensures that all the nutrients and flavors in the various components of the meal are extracted.”
Ultimately, consumers who are aware of the importance of maintaining their health and who wish to take advantage of these highly beneficial foods can walk the trail of Asian families who have been working on it for generations, adding some “goji berries” to their soup bowl or cup of tea, to enjoy With the taste of this “sweet food”, similar to the sweet raisin taste, which keeps Asia always, a young, energetic woman looks in her arteries.