Our Visit to the Argan Oil Cooperative
In January of 2017, my husband, Chris, and I travelled to Morocco to visit the source of our Argan oil. This oil is so precious and unique that many call it Moroccan gold. Badger uses Argan oil because of its unique properties as a small molecule therapeutic oil that is prized for delicate skin and hair care. The Argan tree is endemic to Morocco, which means that it is only found in this country and nowhere else in the world.
Traditionally, Argan has been harvested and processed by the region’s indigenous village women. The craft of making the oil is passed down from mothers to daughters and is a pillar of their culture, community and economy. Until recently, women only had the opportunity to sell their Argan oil in the local marketplace, and would receive a small fraction of the profits. Now, through forming a cooperative, the women have access to a far greater market and have been able to use their traditional knowledge to improve the welfare of their families.
During harvest time, the women wait until the Argan fruit ripens and drops to the ground. The dried fruit is then hand harvested in baskets and carried by donkey into the village. Each individual dried fruit is cracked open by hand to remove the outer flesh, and the inner nut is then cracked open to release two delicate seeds. No machinery has been developed to expedite this process. The final steps in processing the oil can either be done by hand or by an expeller press. During our visit, we watched as the women deftly hand ground roasted seeds and then knead the resulting paste with water to separate the seed meat from the oil.
Argan is among the most expensive oils on the market, due to the immense manual labor needed in processing. We learned that one liter of oil contains 40 kilos of dried fruit, which would come from the full harvest of 5-6 Argan trees. The process from harvest to finished oil for one liter requires two days of work from over a dozen women.
Traveling here not only helped us to understand how special our Argan oil is, but also gave us a glimpse into the warmth and love that goes into the Argan processing. The music and the laughter gives our Argan oil a life force beyond the plant itself, and it is that life force that truly makes this oil Moroccan gold.
– Rebecca & Chris
For the Badger Family