I went to a meeting of the Steering Committee on Promotion of Volunteer Service and spoke to fellow member David Ho Chung-yan about my earlier trip to Ningxia.
Ho, a senior staff member of Radio Television Hong Kong, said he has not only visited the place but also taken part in She Qi Wei Ren, a project that helps enterprises there to engage in community services.
The program undertakes quality control and certification for gogi berries produced in Ningxia, with companies allocating part of their revenue to community service training for small and middle-sized local companies.
Gogi berries are a famous produce of Ningxia. The black variety has anti-oxidant effects while the red ones are a tonic for the eyes, which is especially helpful these days as using the cell phone strains the eyes.
Lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who has severe myopia, often consumes gogi berries for eye care and finds it helpful. He has compared notes with Ho on the subject, and even made a reference video for those who are interested.
Hongkongers often use gogi berries as a soup ingredient. But the long boiling process in soup-making would actually take away much of the gogi's beneficial effects.
Ningxia natives eat freshly picked gogi berries. For the wind-dried ones, they soak them in warm water or let them slowly "melt" in the month.
Therapeutic effects can be achieved by consuming just a few berries a day, but you have to be persistent and keep at it.
Someone asked whether it's all right to eat berries straight from the box like candies without first washing them. Ho laughed and said that's fine if one chooses products under the She Qi Wei Ren program, as they have quality certification.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily