Now that you know all about what argan oil can do for you, let ‘ s talk about what you can do for argan oil. Or rather, what buying argan oil can do for Morocco. Just in case you needed more reasons to feel good about purchasing argan oil, maybe you´d be interested to hear that the purchase of argan oil also lends itself to the empowerment of Moroccan women and the preservation of natural resources in this area. Both add to the enhanced cooking and beauty qualities of Argan Oil.
Although Morocco is a rather patriarchal society, the entire argan oil industry is run almost exclusively by women. Women are the only ones in Moroccan society who are taught to make argan oil and they hold the secret to this age-old tradition. Much of the country´s oil is made in cooperatives that provide Berber women with the opportunity to work and make money independently.
The traditional method of extraction begins with sun-drying the “drupes” (the pulpy, thick-skinned fruit that surrounds the argan nut). Once the weight of the drupe has been reduced by 50%, stones are used to crack open the nut and extract its oil-rich seeds (usually two or three). Seeds are then roasted over an open fire and pulped in a stone mill. Finally, water is added and the ensuing mass is kneaded, resulting in the separation of the oil.
It was once nearly impossible to find argan oil for sale outside of Morocco but, since the early 2000s, increased popularity of the product for cosmetic and culinary uses in Europe and North America has caused a boom in the argan oil industry. As with many crops that see an abrupt increase in demand, more “modern” and less sustainable harvesting techniques began being employed. In addition to oil, the argan tree is a crucial part of the ecosystem, providing food, shelter and protection from desertification. Its deep roots help prevent erosion and desert encroachment and the canopy provides shade for other agricultural crops. Its leaves and fruit provide food for animals.
In 1998, the importance of the argan tree´s role in this fragile ecosystem was recognized by the United Nations Education, Scientifc and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and some 8,280 km² in the southwestern region of Morocco was transformed into a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO´s Man and the Biosphere Program.
This program was designed to protect vulnerable areas and promote solutions to conserving biodiversity within this area. By understanding and taking into account the delicate social and ecological systems at play, the sustainable production of argan oil takes a fundamental role in preserving this area. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.