Helen Razer on the myth of the Goji.
Goji berries. They taste exactly like my tangy jocks and look exactly like spent vagina. They are horribly expensive. There is no peer-reviewed study that confirms the five gajillion health benefits claimed for them which start with longevity and end with A Cure for Cancer. However, every tit is buying them, eating them and plonking on about their glossy hair and chi.
Goji effing berries are the latest effing foodstuff to be served up in a long buffet of human hope. They are a salty little nostrum whose qualities have been chiefly studied by supermodels and spruiked by The University of Gwyneth Paltrow. Superfood. Super CRAP more like.
I mean, YES foods rich in vitamin C are a good idea. We’ve known this since an 18th Century ship’s doctor eliminated scurvy from his crew. So why not have a nice open-pollinated tomato, you feckless wanker? Why do you have to buy something with a picture of a cocking Buddha on the box that costs more per kilo than a decent pair of jeans?
Because we all want desperately to believe that there is a secret shortcut to virtue.
Acai. Goji. Chia. Sprouted grains. Cold-milled fucking unicorn. They’ve all had their five minutes of pseudo-nutrition superstardom and most of them are prohibitively expensive AND taste like shit. (I will, however, defend quinoa as a very tasty grain and recommend it as an occasional substitute for bulgur in tabouleh.) These rarefied items are really just one step away from vitamins and function a great deal of the time in deluding us that we really don’t need to worry about the rest of our diet.
A thousand years ago when I was a small Lesbian with a capital L, I had a crush on a girl called Motorcycle Mary. She had a Kawasaki and a fabulously slim figure which was, as it turned out, the happy by-product of a meth habit. Motorcycle spent her nights hitting up speed and her days conspicuously drinking dandelion tea and eating tempeh. (This was the nineties. We also did a lot of clowning workshops.)
My point by way of example is: there is no hack for nutrition. If you are in reasonable health and require no dietary fine-tuning by your medical practitioner, the same boring old rules apply as they long have. To wit, to borrow from food ethics guy Michael Pollan: eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.
Our obsession with “super” foods has become near pathological. Actually, it is pathological according to some psychiatrists. Orthorexia is a term used by some practitioners to describe the obsession with the nutritional content of food. It’s a disorder which gives rise to the market’s obsession with “vitamin enriched” water and “fortified” bread and goji berries.
It’s wack. I mean, I’m not what you’d call a woman of exceptional Reason but even I can see the sense in what the majority of nutritionists recommend. Eat a shit-tank of plant foods and try not to have shit that is overly processed. If the food has been over-worked, it’s unlikely to work for our bodies.