Over the past few years The View from Fez has highlighted the nonsense talked about argan oil. The one thing however, that is not nonsense, is the amount of money being made by those who can convince others that the oil has the almost mystical properties some advertisements claim. The fact is you can buy 250 mls of argan oil in Morocco for under $10 escapes most people's attention. And, yes it is quite good for the skin, probably fine to put in your hair and the culinary version of the oil is really nice to dip bread in for breakfast. But now there is a new marketing push into the argan oil fad - "Argan 100".
An Israeli company Sivan is promoting “Argan 100” – a "super strain" of Argan that is tolerant of the Mediterranean climate and can produce ten times more nuts than the average tree in Morocco, they say. “We are the only company that knows how to raise Argan trees and to bring them to market professionally, so that every year we will know how much oil to expect,” says company’s chief agronomist Chaim Oren.
|ripe argan nuts|
An Israeli "innovation" website carries a story riddled with inaccuracies. The website, "No Camels" headlines: Rare Moroccan Argan Oil – Now Made In Israel then proceeds to claim "Until recently, it was a rare product grown only in the Atlas Mountains." Not true. It actually grows on the coast and with argan forests now covering some 8,280 km² they could hardly be called rare. The website also falls for and perpetuates the old goat harvesting myth in which it is necessary for goats to eat and then expel the nuts before they can be processed. Of course this is rubbish.
Maybe the most insidious claim by the company is "This commercial endeavor may also be beneficial for the Argan trees in Morocco, as the competition with the local market could reduce the tree’s chances of extinction. The United Nations’ conservation body UNESCO has set up reserves to protect the dwindling Argan trees in Morocco." The sad truth is that if this Israeli argan makes major market penetration then a lot of Moroccan women will be out of work and the trees will lose their value and may well be cut down to make charcoal.
Yes, a "super strain" of argan does sound too silly to be true, but think again, if there is money to be made and enough fashion victims believe the hype, then the manufacturers will probably make a fortune before the cosmetic industry turns to the next "big thing" - Barbary fig oil.
THE VIEW FROM FEZ REPORT ON THE ARGAN HYPE IS HERE: LIQUID GOLD?
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