Argan Oil The Liquid Gold Of Morocco Cultural Studies Essay

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In the past decade, Argan oil has become more and more popular all around the world. Since the Moroccan King Mohammed VI took the throne, the oil is being exported worldwide and become one of the best export products. The mystic oil can be used in many different ways and has drawn the attention of the Western cosmetic and beauty industry. Because of this growing popularity, the poor Berbers in the southwest of Morocco have found a new source of income. In this report you will read all about the story behind this rare and miraculous oil.

The story begins with the Argan tree (Argania Spinosa), also known as the 'Tree of life'. This tree is one of the rarest and oldest trees of the world (25 million years old). It consists of very strong, hard wood. The fruits of the Argan tree do not only attract humans, but also goats. The goats climb the tree to eat the leaves and the fruits, which looks like olives.

Argan oil is traditionally handcrafted. The Berbers start with drying the fruits in the sun, so they can pick out the nuts, which look like almonds. The outer flesh of the fruit is used to feed the large amounts of goats the Berbers keep. When the fruits are dry, the nuts are cracked with sharp stones. Next, the nuts are roasted to obtain the characteristically rich nutty flavour. Nothing is thrown away; the outer shells of the nuts are used as fuel. After the nuts are roasted, they are grinded into a brown paste, which looks like peanut butter. The paste is kneaded by hand (or by machines in factories) to obtain the oil.

The extraction of Argan oil is a very intensive task which is done by woman only. One litre of oil takes about two days. To guarantee the traditional way prod

make the Argan oil and

As population and welfare grows, more traffic crowds our roadways. Last year the total cost of traffic congestion to Dutch motorists was €485 million. What are the causes of traffic congestion? And how can it be prevented? In this article we will take a closer look at traffic congestions in general and the possible solutions of this problem.

Almost every driver in Holland has been stuck in a traffic jam for at least once. Especially in the major cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Haarlem, Eindhoven, Zwolle there are traffic congestions daily. Every driver is wasting time, gas and money. We also pay the price in damage to our environment and quality of life. As written above, the cost of traffic congestion was €485 million last year. And this year, it is still rising.

What are the main causes of traffic congestion? The growth of our population and welfare results in the progression of car sales. Traffic engineers have studied the congestion in simulations and real-time observations. Of course construction, accidents and stalled vehicles are often bringing about traffic congestion. Another reason is that there are more cars entering the highway than there are leaving. As more cars enter the highway, drivers have to use their brakes more often. In heavy, but free flowing traffic, jams can also arise spontaneously. It can be triggered by a minor event, such as an abrupt steering maneuver by a single driver. This is called the 'butterfly effect'.

Because the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries of the world, it is very difficult to solve the problem of congestion. The government is building bigger roads, but every year the number of motorists is increasing. There is also a strategy to scale down the intensity of traffic offered. By raising taxes, the government is trying to limit this intensity. But this also has not been very effective. Newer ideas, such as payment per kilometer are likely to work better. But not every citizen is happy with this idea.

If more people would use the public transit for travelling, the problem of congestion could be solved quickly. But at the moment, the capacity of the public transit is not big enough to transport enough people. Alternative methods such as carpooling just not seem to work in Europe.

A discussion held in our English class has shown that even students prefer private travelling to travelling by train, bus or metro. There are lots of students that already own a car and use it to travel to school. Even while they can use public transit for free. Comfort and waiting time are the biggest reason for the students to take their cars. On the other hand, if the public transit would be more capable and trustworthy, and the waiting times would be shorter, most of the students would let their vehicles at home.

Personally I think the problem of traffic congestion will not be solved in the next ten years. While widening roadways and alternative transportation methods are good, but temporary solutions, the problem continues to grow if the population of the Netherlands continues to grow.

1. Liquid Gold in Morocco

Tara Darby


Published: November 18, 2007

The New York Times

The road from Marrakesh to Essaouira is craggy and bleak, an arid moonscape dotted only by a few roadside towns and the occasional Berber village. In the '60s and '70s, Essaouira was a stop on the hash-filled hippie trek - land in Marrakesh, load up your magic bus and head west for the windswept beaches and clear blue waters of this former Portuguese fishing village. Back then, Jimi Hendrix made the pilgrimage, as did Bob Marley and Cat Stevens. Essaouira still has remnants of its boho past: crocheted Rasta beanies are sold alongside fezzes in the souk; surfers come to lap up the waves in what is now one of the world's top windsurfing and kiteboarding spots; and a dilapidated fort, which legend has it was the inspiration for Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand" (he actually recorded the song nearly two years before touching down here), is just south of town.

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The Oil of the Argan Tree

Tara Darby

Sometimes you can spot goats up in Essaouira's argan trees, feasting on the fruit.

In recent years, well-heeled Europeans have started to flee the more touristy Marrakesh for Essaouira, where they stay in luxurious riads in the medina and sunbathe on the pristine white beaches. The town has also developed a vibrant cultural life, with galleries, music festivals and souks filled with high-end artisanal crafts. You can pick up everything from carved wooden instruments to inlaid boxes here. The real find, however, is argan oil, made from the nuts of the argan tree, which grows almost exclusively in this region. The oil, which is said to have restorative and age-defying effects, has become one of the latest miracle ingredients in the beauty industry. High in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it is believed to help all sorts of skin conditions: dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles. Moroccans slather it on their skin, hair, nails and even their babies. They eat it, too - drizzling it over salads and couscous, or using it to make amlou, a tahinilike spread of the oil, almonds and honey.

Approaching Essaouira's sandy-colored ramparts, passing the olive groves and grazing donkeys, you see signs announcing women-run argan cooperatives: Argan Co-Op, Women's Argan Collective, Miracle Oil. And so on. If you pull over to a cooperative, the Berber women - and it is only women who make argan oil - will often invite you in to watch them work. In most of the cooperatives, the older village women sit in the courtyard and work as the younger bilingual girls walk you around, giving a tutorial about the process. (Pull over too many times, though, and be prepared to hear all about the process again. And again.)

The nuts, which look like a cross between a walnut and an almond, are picked out of the fruit of the squat, gnarled argan trees that dot the yellow hills above Essaouira. Depending on the season, there might be goats up in the branches, munching on the fruit. The nuts destined for salad oil are roasted on an open flame over a large steel drum, like chestnuts, which brings out their distinctive peppery flavor; those that will be used for skin- and hair-care products are left raw.

The women first crack the shells with sharp stones. They then place the kernels between two Flintstone-size slabs of rock, grinding them into a brown paste, which resembles chunky peanut butter. The paste, kneaded by hand to extract the oil, transforms into a solid hunk and is sent to nearby factories, mainly in Agadir, where more oil is extracted by a press. Some is made into soaps, creams and shampoos, but it is the pure oil that is most sought after.

The souks of Essaouira are filled with little jars of argan oil that have suspicious locals rolling their eyes. "Vegetable oil," they'll warn you. (Check the bottle for provenance; if it has a cooperative's name on the label, it's probably authentic.) The best way to find the real deal is to follow the smell of roasted nuts that will lead you to the cooperatives.

Argan is not so new in Europe: English and French tourists have been bringing it back from Moroccan seaside vacations for years, and it's all over the markets of Provence, lined up next to the lavender and olive oils. But now, thanks to the substantial efforts of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI (who has been praised for his efforts to promote women's rights) and the local government, the oil is being exported worldwide, moving from the mud-and-stone co-ops into spas and Sephoras around the world.

Because the extraction of argan oil is a labor-intensive task perfected by the Berber women native to the area (it takes a few days to produce one liter), the government has established a fund for the cooperatives. Outside groups, like the government of Monaco, have gotten involved as backers. Women from the villages nearby are invited to work half days (so they can still tend to their families) in exchange for fair wages and good working conditions. Eventually, the cooperatives should pay for themselves. Unesco has designated the 10,000-square-mile argan-growing region as a biosphere reserve.

Meanwhile, more Western cosmetic companies are starting to distribute this "liquid gold," as it is often called. Liz Earle, who runs an organic skin-care line in England, uses argan oil that she buys from two of the cooperatives in Essaouira in her Superskin Concentrate. "When I first found argan oil, I brought it back to the U.K. to have it analyzed," says Earle, who forages the globe for raw ingredients. "It was so remarkably high in vitamin E and had these very interesting phytosterols, which are good for scar tissue and so many other things" - including, she says, that hard-to-define problem of lackluster skin.

But what Earle likes most about the oil is that the production passes the sustainability test and directly benefits the women who make it. "Culturally, what it does is good," she says. "It provides income to a group that wouldn't otherwise have it."

2. Live Naturally: The Benefits of Argan Oil

Monday, March 01, 2010 by: Katherine East, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) Known by the Moroccan Berber community as the "Tree of Life", the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) has supported the people of these arid regions and their livestock for centuries. The leaves and fruit sustain goats, camels and sheep. Cattle live off the press-cake that remains after the oil has been extracted; humans eat the oil and the nut shells are used for fuel. Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the tree and is one of the rarest and most expensive oils in the world. Berber women have used Argan oil for centuries to protect and nourish their skin, hair and nails from the harsh conditions in which they live. Now Argan oil is gaining popularity as a "miracle ingredient" in the Western beauty product industry. It has extremely high levels of Vitamin E and 80% fatty acids which make it perfect for healing many skin ailments as well as protecting against premature aging caused by oxidation.

Healing and Protecting

The active substances called triterpenoids that occur in Argan Oil offer amazing skin protection benefits. These include tissue healing (scars), anti-inflammatory, sun-protective and disinfectant properties.

The oil contains 80% unsaturated fatty acids and is more resistant to oxidation than olive oil. Argan oil also contains 0.8% unsaponifiables (a large group of compounds also known as plant sterols or sterolins). Sterolins improve skin metabolism, reduce inflammation and promote excellent moisture retention.


Argan is considered an effective anti-aging oil due to properties such as the high levels of vitamin E /tocopherols (anti-oxidants help neutralise free radical damage, which is important for skin exposed to polluted Western environments) and saponins (skin-softening agents). Besides cooling and soothing inflammation, it is also reputed to help reduce wrinkles by restoring the skin`s hydro-lipid layer.

Medicinal Properties

Argan oil contains rare plant sterols (schottenol and spinasterol), not found in other oils. It is believed that these phytosterols are unique in their combination and that there are no other vegetable oils with a comparable phytosterol composition. In general phytosterols reduce inflammation and help block cholesterol absorption from the intestines. They also show anti-cancer properties.

Argan oil facilitates digestion by increasing the concentration of pepsin in the gastric juice. It contains flavonoids that act as a natural anti-inflammatory both internally and externally.

The oil is considered highly beneficial for arthritic or rheumatic conditions.

It is helpful for lowering cholesterol levels, stimulating circulation and strengthening the body`s natural immunity.

It is used to soothe skin ailments like chickenpox, acne, psoriasis, and dry eczema. It is also used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

Traditionally Argan oil is also reputed to have aphrodisiac and tonic properties.

Interesting Argan Oil Facts

Argan tree groves survive for 125 - 450 years, making them a valuable inheritance for future generations.

Argan oil has a similar fat content to olive oil and is used for similar purposes. Commercial Argan oil is a lot more expensive than olive oil. The Argan tree however lives longer than the Olive tree and requires no cultivation.

Traditionally the local Berber women collect the seeds and press them to obtain the Argan oil for domestic use. This is a laborious process taking about 12 - 20 hours of hand processing to produce one litre of Argan oil. Oil produced by this method will keep for 3 - 6 months because it has extremely high vitamin E levels and is considered oxidatively stable. Moroccan families produce the oil as needed from a store of the kernels, which will keep for 20 years unopened.

3. Liquid Gold (Milwaukee Magazine)

Tuesday 4/1/2008, by Leah Dobkin

4. The History and Uses of Argan Oil

Thursday 3/6/2010, by Brandi Abbey

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Brandi Abbey

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Brandi is, first and foremost, a mom to her 5 kids. She loves writing, marketing and information gathering. She also loves to eat and cook... ...

Argan oil is a very rare commodity that originates from the argan tree grown in the southwest desert of Morocco. It has become very popular around the world in the past decade. It is mainly used in two very different ways. First of all, the oil is used as a gourmet delight because of its nutty flavor and apparent health benefits. Secondly, it is used as a powerful ingredient in many health and beauty products. It is rich in vitamin E and contains many antioxidants. In fact, the Berbers who populate this region of Morocco have been using the oil for hundreds of years, and it has been particularly valuable in protecting and conditioning hair and skin.

The Berbers have also used the wood of the argan tree as a source for charcoal, firewood and building material. However, the women's cooperative that produces and markets the argan oil has established an ecosystem reforestation project so that these trees will be protected. So, the trees are no longer being used in this way. In fact, the growing popularity of the oil in beauty products can be traced to the deliberate marketing of the oil that has spawned new economic growth for the poor Berber region of Morocco.

The Berber people still use the oil for themselves, but the growth of this industry has been quite remarkable.

Producing the Oil

The extraction of the oil from the almond inside the argan tree fruit is sometimes done by hand, but more recently has become a more automated process.

The hand extraction process is very time consuming. The fruit is opened and the almonds are taken from the inside pulp. These almonds are then allowed to dry in the sun. The dried almonds are then broken open with rocks or stones. The seeds are then removed, and ground into a thick paste. The paste is then processed or squeezed to produce the oil. If the oil is to be used in cuisine, the dried almonds are toasted prior to breaking them open. This brings out the nutty flavor in the oil.

The oil has a variety of uses and contains overwhelming numbers of health and beauty benefits. This is true when it is added to a healthy diet, and when it is applied directly to the skin, hair and nails.

Health benefits

The roasted oil can be added to dishes much like you would add olive oil. It has been widely published that argan oil can positively impact an individual's cholesterol levels, and its anti-inflammatory properties also show an improvement in cardiovascular health and arthritis. Unlike other oils, this oil contains sterols, which helps block the cholesterol absorption from intestines. Sterols have also been reported to be anti-cancerous.

In addition to the healthful benefits of adding this oil to a diet, it has also been reported that using it as massage oil for individuals with arthritis helps relieve their symptoms. And, it has shown a positive impact on chicken pox and acne, which is linked to its powerful anti-inflammatory abilities. Because of those abilities, it is also a product that can minimize the pain and scarring of burns or other abrasions.

The Argan secret of beauty

The introduction of this oil into the cosmetic and beauty industry has been expansive. Because of the multiple benefits experienced by the Moroccan people for hundreds of years, the modern marketplace is taking advantage of this ingredient and marketing it to a worldwide audience.

The oil has an incredible impact on skin. It can be used as an all over moisturizer; it protects against sun damage, prevents stretch marks, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and revitalizes the skin to bring out its most youthful look.

It also does wonderful things for hair. It conditions, restores shine, bounce and manageability. It provides a barrier between the hair and many environmental stressors including the sun and dry air. It can repair and smooth the hair cuticle when it has been damaged by the environment or by heat-styling techniques. The oil serves as a barrier between the hair and future heat styling as well. When used as a hair conditioner, the oil is absorbed easily and provides a sleek and healthy style without a heavy or greasy appearance.

This oil also does wonders for nails and cuticles. It is popping up in various manicure products, because the oil revitalizes and returns a youthful look to the hands. It also encourages the growth of healthy nails.

The variety of uses of argan oil has helped it reach a kind of super stardom, and this interest and demand for the product seems to have provided the Berber people with a successful global trading opportunity.