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Goji Berries Fresh Dried

Tibetan Goji Myth

Scientifically, Goji is actually Chinese Wolfberry bearing the botanical name Lycium barbarum.Traditionally the finest quality comes from Zhongning County in Ningxia Province. This is in the floodplain of the Yellow River which has the most highly mineralized soil in the world. The first westerner to import Ningxia Wolfberry into the USA was Dr. Gary Young. In his book, ‘Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood’, Dr. Young talks about this Tibetan story at length.

Richard Zhang who co-wrote an excellent wolfberry book with Dr. Paul Gross is the owner of a Wolfberry farm in China. He went to Tibet in search of the Tibetan berry and came home convinced that it was a fabrication with no basis in fact.

A gentleman by the name of Simon Parry who writes for the South China MorningPost has also gone to Tibet at the invitation of a Mr. Antony Jacobson. Mr.Jacobson is the president of a company named ‘Tibet Authentic’, which claims to be the only real source of so called Tibetan Goji. Unfortunately Mr. Parry was unable to see the supposed Goji fields after being led on a wild ride throughthe mountains for 12 hours.

Not seeing the Goji fields does not mean that they don’t exist, but so far no one has shown them to either Richard Zhang or Simon Parry. My business partner Jay Zhang has also been to Tibet and he assures me that it is all a story. Jay comes from a part of China not so far from where the finest Goji has been grown commercially for the last 90 plus years. We have a rare book published strictly for the industry in China with only 2,000 copies in print. That text states clearly all the production figures from the various growing areas and gives no figures for the Tibetan region which is known now as Xizang autonomous region

What I did find by searching about a hundred pages deep into Google is an Australian company that has planted some Goji in an area very close to Ningxia, just inside the border of Xizang. Truly that company can state that they have Tibetan Goji, but what a stretch to achieve this feat.

Now, for the hype, I need to disclose my findings. I received a document from the Toronto based distributor of Antony Jacobson’s company. This document purports to be a ‘Certificate of Origin’ demonstrating Tibetan source for the goods. Unfortunately this document is blurred to the point of illegibility and no matter how I magnify the text I cannot read it. The larger Chinese characters on the stamp can be read by my partner who is not in any way convinced by what he sees. Also provided to me was a brief news clip on video file which is audible clearly enough that my partner could tell me what he heard in Chinese. Again nothing was given to prove the story.

There is one other company based in Washington State which is known as the Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute. They also claim to be the only authentic provider of Tibetan Goji berries. While Mr. Jacobson uses the name Lycium barbarum for his product we find Tanaduk using Lycium tibeticum which is a wholly fictitious name. Also Tanaduk in previous versions used Lycium chinense which is a minor species.

Other companies like Hasur Corporation supply the trade name ‘Ethnoscience’ with the made up latin name of Lycium Eleganus. Also I have seen this spelled as‘elegansus’ and ‘eleagnus’.

When I checked the database of the Germplasm Resource Information Network of the USDA at I got a list of 33 Lycium species. No such name as tibeticum, eleagnus or eleagnus exists in this database. Also I checked the Museum of Natural History and several other well respected botanical databases with the same result. My search queries of the fictitious names yield no results.

Unfortunately even well respected people like David Wolfe have not taken the time to check their information to the same degree which I have, and the incorrect data is repeated from his website by unsuspecting followers of his otherwise highly regarded reputation. There is a website at which also parrots this misinformation. They claim to have USDA ‘Wild Crafted’ Tibetan goji. I have yet to see such a designation as ‘Wild Crafted’ being issued by the USDA. The Latin misnomer reaches its peak with the triple amalgamation in the name ‘Lycium Eleagnus Barbarum’ shown at their page address

In answer to my readers questions regarding the reasons for this falsification of facts I can give the following three conjectures.

  1. People are afraid to admit that the product comes from China due to pesticide,melamine and other toxic news items.
  2. If they say it is wild crafted in remote pristine environments then they can save the huge financial outlay required to obtain legitimate Organic Certification.
  3. Perhaps they feel that Tibet sounds more exotic or that there is tremendous sympathy for Tibetan people.

In conclusion I admit that it is logically impossible to prove that something does not exist. However in the interest of journalistic accuracy I feel confident that I have responsibly exhausted all avenues to discover the truth of the matter. I therefore have no difficulty stating for the record that Tibetan Goji is pure marketing hype and I today challenge anybody to prove me wrong.

Michael Seegers

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