Berry Interesting

Healthful goji berries are often imported, but the plants can thrive in metro Detroit


Published:

The quest for powerful antioxidants has us produce-hopping, embracing the next-best colorful panacea from pomegranates to acai to goji berries.

Usually, the potent botanicals are more exotic than your garden-variety tomatoes and cukes. Goji berries, of the genus Lycium, are widely used in Tibetan and ayurvedic medicine. The chewy red fruit doesn’t come cheap; they can cost about $30 a pound to import from China. That price tag got Michael Peters wondering whether goji could thrive here in metro Detroit.

Peters, co-owner of Imagine Do Productions, which operates IndiEdibles.com, bought a bunch of goji seeds and planted them in northern Michigan at a yoga retreat three years ago. Within eight months, the tallest of the 250 plants were 6 feet tall.

“It’s a high-value product and no one is selling a pure juice,” Peters says. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Goji plants like lots of water and direct sun and can reach a height of 20 feet. They can be used for landscaping alone, trained to grow like brambles, or used as hedges. The plant’s small green leaves are edible, with a tangy flavor, and the bark, Peters says, has antibacterial properties and can be used when distilled with alcohol.

“[Goji has] a dynamic utility,” he says. “Everything on the plant can be used.”

No definitive studies back up the claims of those who swear by the goji’s healing powers. But limited published research indicates that it’s loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, especially carotenoids, such as beta carotene and zeaxanthin (which may protect against age-related macular degeneration).

Peters says that he and his partners plan to eventually turn the berries into a sellable juice and liquor. Meanwhile, IndiEdibles, which promotes urban farming, is hoping to encourage other locals to try their hand at sowing gojis. Seeds can be bought online at gojiberry.com, or bushes can be pre-ordered on Peters’ Web site that will be ready in the fall. IndiEdibles.com offers how-to videos for novice growers. He’s hoping the idea catches on and fuels his larger mission of encouraging Michigan residents to develop their own cottage industries as a hedge against the tough economy. “They’re being shipped from China. Why?” Peters asks. “We can grow them right here.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Mustang Fever!

The iconic 'pony car' marks its 50th anniversary

Earth Tones: Recycling Latex Paint

The Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recover Authority (SOCRRA) has teamed with Battle Creek-based ePaint Recycling to help divert latex paint from the waste stream.

Bigger Than Ever

Former 'underground party' now fills the Masonic Temple.

Is it Time for a New Nickname for 'The Wolverine State'?

Despite our moniker and U-M’s mascot, ‘The Wolverine State’ seems to be weasel words

Wall to Wall Art

Park West Gallery and Dearborn's The Henry team up to decorate a 'boutique' hotel
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. An Animated Life
    As Rob Paulsen prepares to publish his memoir, the Hollywood veteran and voice behind some of the...
  2. An Hour With ... Teddy Dorsette III
    President, Detroit Black Deaf Advocates
  3. State of the Arts
  4. A New Noodle Shop on the Block
    Midtown Detroit welcomes Urban Ramen
  5. Gold Standard
    Tucked into an industrial strip in Ann Arbor, a new restaurant offers French fare
  6. In Tune
    Influenced by its storied past, Willis Show Bar sets the tone for a nostalgic sound
  7. Drink Beer, Do Good
    Local breweries and pubs jump on the charity bandwagon
  8. Recipe: Roast Boneless Pork Loin With Tart Cherry Chutney
    Executive chef at Ford’s Garage, Darin Thompson’s boneless pork loin marvel
  9. Business Class
    Trim suits, creative layers, and crisp white shirts - Fall's wardrobe essentials are fitting for...
  10. Woah, Deli!
    Rocco’s Italian Deli offers classic sandwiches with a fresh, Detroit twist