Not long after I posted about trying to let readers know about the animal testing practices of the companies whose products I test, I received an email from a reader we will call M.
"I was wondering...do you know how argan oil is produced?! I went to a trip through Morocco last year...and it made me..well ummm...never want to use the oil and other items with it again."
Instantly, I thought, "Frack. It's like Palm oil. I'm recommending an ingredient that is steeped in turmoil and environmental/social controversy. " Since that is never my intention (I like to keep things positive), I turned to google. When I couldn't quite figure out argan oil's dark side, based on my quick research, I asked M for the details.
Turns out, there isn't really a dark side. More of a slightly gross and funny side. Here is the really elementary gist of how argan oil is produced.
The nuts grow on trees. These nuts are very hard to crack, especially for the Berber women, who are the primary sellers of said nuts.
Goats (who don't have the sense not to eat things they can't really chew) eat the nuts.
Goats then digest and um, expel, the nuts.
People then harvest the nuts from the goat poop, the shells now being easier to crack, after going through the goat's digestive system.
Women then mill the kernels and make that into a paste and then refine that into the oil. It's one of the primary sources of income for whole communities.
According to ArganOils.com, a website that promotes environmentally sound argan oil farming, "By supporting Argan Oils, you are not only preserving the health of your skin and body, you are contributing to the protection of the argan tree and the empowerment of the women who produce this remarkable oil."
Whew! No turmoil, just a little poop. That's not so bad. People use way worse stuff all of the time. At least it's a natural process, right?
The best part about argan oil is that in order to get the nuts out of the tree, the goats climb into the tree to go get them.
I initially thought that M had photoshopped the goats into the trees, but then she kindly sent me a bunch of her vacation photos from May of last year.
Since that made me giggle incessantly, I had to look for more proof that this was true. I found this video on YouTube:
Perhaps you already knew about the tree climbing goats of Morocco. But did you know about the poop? Do you care or will you still use argan oil? I love it (especially to mix in with hair dye to keep the hair soft). I know this isn't really new news. But it is new to me. Thoughts?
Photos courtesy of M. YouTube video courtesy of Robert Beal.
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