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  • Beauty Beyond Borders: How I discovered Argan Oil on an Adventure to Morocco

    I discovered Argan Oil on my first trip to Morocco in 2006….

    “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” —Moorish proverb

    When I arrive in a new country, the first two things on my cultural agenda are Music and Medicine. I am fascinated with the local healers, medicine, and remedies of all traditional cultures. 

    “To awaken quite alone in a strange town
    is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” —Freya Stark

    The front desk person at my Riad explained to me in both French and Arabic where the local Berber Pharmacy was. It seemed clear enough at the time so I adventured off through the winding alleys and souks (markets) of the Medina, or old city.

    Moroccan Elixir Story Market

    The colors, smells and sounds of Marrakesh were a wonderful assault to all of my senses. The 20-minute adventure took almost 6 hours. I was distracted by vendors and Berber Carpet sellers that were seducing me into their shops with cups of Mint tea followed by heavy pressure sales tactics. I quickly had a reputation for bargaining like a Berber, which I have learned on my many trips abroad to countries where negotiating is part of the social fabric and custom. It is a delightful way to have fun with the locals. By the time I made it to the Berber Pharmacy I had 3 pairs of pointy Berber slippers and a Gorgeous Berber carpet.

    “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.
    Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” —Susan Heller

    The Berber Pharmacist invited me in and I introduced myself as une Docteur du Medicine Naturelle. I was quickly taken into the back room and seated with some Mint Tea. The pharmacy assistants brought out the samples of wonderful herbs, spices, and beauty remedies of the Berber people. There were elixirs and potions for all sorts of ailments…including some Berber Viagra!!! After 6 hours of Berber harassment in the souks I felt that Berber Viagra was the last thing these people needed. The beauty creams were laced with Rose Oil and Orange Blossoms. The friendly assistants were massaging me with so many oils that I smelled like a flower garden. I was in heaven and learning so much about the Traditional Berber Medicines. The Pharmacist himself presented Argan Oil to me. Argan oil is also known as liquid gold. It has a lovely golden amber color and I quickly learned how expensive and rare it is. Argan Oil is a Moroccan Elixir for beauty, health and longevity. It has been used for centuries by the local people in both Culinary and Cosmetic forms. The Berbers use it as a food to benefit rheumatism, high cholesterol, diabetes and more. In its cosmetic form, it is a beauty elixir known to reduce aging and enhance skin and hair regeneration. This is when my addiction to Argan Oil began. I bought Argan Oil in every form and combination imaginable and used it for the next year.

     

    On my second visit to Morocco, I discovered the Argan Co-Operatives….

     

    Moroccan Elixir Story

    I met my husband, Ahmed, on my second trip to Morocco at a music festival in Essaouira. Essaouira is an enchanting city on the Atlantic Ocean. Wind surfers, kites surfers, and Berbers wandering along the coast on Camels greet the wonderful sandy beaches and sea. It is truly a magical place on earth.

    “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed
    between man and the universe” —Anatole France

    This white city is known for its laid back atmosphere, its musical heritage of Gnawa music, and it’s Argan Oil Co-Operatives. Ahmed had a connection to the ladies at the Marjana Argan Co-Operative, so we spent a day trip travelling there to learn about the Argan Oil production and the Co-Operatives operations. It was in this trip that I learned about the arduous and time-consuming process that takes the nut from an Argan Tree and transforms it into this liquid gold. It takes 20 hours of manual labor to extract one liter of Argan Oil. Various Fair Trade Co-Operatives in the south west of Morocco perform the methods of producing Argan Oil in the Traditional way. The Co-Operatives of Women are the country’s opportunity to help the poorer and disenfranchised women with good paying jobs, health care, childcare, and homes.

    moroccan-elixir-bottles-pure-argan-oil-flowers

    The Moroccan Elixir is an Opportunity to share in the culture, welfare and medicine of Morocco While enjoying the beauty and health benefits of Argan Oil-Liquid Gold.

    I hope that you will enjoy and experience the wonders of Moroccan Elixir and Argan Oil. Ahmed has begun to import the Argan Oil from the Marjana Co-Operative. We have formulated Moroccan Elixir with pure Argan oil and organic essential oils.

    The Wonders of Argan Oil speak for itself. I am so excited to share with you this exotic health elixir from my travels!

    “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
    we must carry it with us or we find it not.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. We are happy to share these wonderful products with you.

    By: Dr. Gabrielle Francis

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  • What You Need To Know About Where Your Argan Oil Comes From

    In the landscape of today’s health and beauty market, we as consumers are obsessed with the latest superfoods and anti-aging elixirs. Every few months, a new product comes to the market from an exotic culture that has the promise of longevity and immortal beauty. Most of these wonderful products have centuries of use in their local cultures as medicines of the earth.

    As a doctor of natural medicine who has studied with healers in many traditional cultures, I have been able to see the (both positive and negative) impact that this “superfood” culture” has had on indigenous peoples. It is my desire to see the health and beauty industry strive to educate consumers on the local cultures from which these "Medicines of the Earth" come, so as to promote the practice of fair trade. In this way, the gifts we receive for our health and beauty can be a gift that is given twice by giving the opportunity for growth and abundance to the local cultures that they are extracted from.

    Ahmed Jeriouda, the CEO of Moroccan Elixir, shares the impact that the argan oil cosmetic revolution has had on the local women and villages of Morocco in the following story.

    —Dr. Gabrielle Francis

    Argan oil has been revered as a “beauty and health elixir” for centuries by the Moroccan people. Although argan oil is primarily endemic of the southwestern part of Morocco, its legendary use has permeated the culture of Morocco, and that is why it is often known as "Moroccan Oil.”

    My first memories of argan oil were as a young boy in Morocco with a family of women that were always using argan oil as a beauty remedy for hair, acne, anti-aging for wrinkles, and even as a remedy for cellulite. When the whole family came down with the chickenpox, my mother used the argan oil to help heal the skin sores, and it worked like magic. We also used argan oil as a dressing for couscous and tagines as well as a dip for our wonderful bread. Having argan oil in the house was always considered a special treat.

    Argan oil made its debut in the international market about 20 years ago. First, it became a favorite of the French, British, and German markets as the travelers from Europe were introduced to argan oil on their trips to the southwest regions of Morocco. In the last 10 years, argan oil has become popular in the American cosmetic industry.

    The traditional production method of argan oil is still a cottage industry of local women’s cooperatives. The new demands and the commercial success of the business have helped to preserve this tradition and to enhance local cultures and customs. I have watched the evolution of this growth and development firsthand.

    In my late teens I would make an annual pilgrimage to Essaouira, an idyllic walled city, on the western coast of Morocco, for the annual Gnawa Music Festival that takes place each year in June. My friends and I were renting an apartment from a wonderful old woman named Khadija. She was a widow with many children, and the status of widows in Morocco at that time was very challenging. She would rent her house as a way to make money to feed and support her family.

    The financial benefits reaped from selling the oil have allowed the village people to stay put and grow their own local economy instead of heading to the big cities to find work. The women have taken the money to build schools, homes, and community centers for the villages.

    One year, we came back for our annual trip and Khadija was working at the Marjana Argan Oil Co-Operative just outside Essaouira. She was working in the traditional production of the argan oil, which is an extremely labor- and time-intensive process. Each year, we came for a visit and saw the fruits of her labor. In a few years, she had bought a house for herself and her children and grandchildren. The cooperative started with about 10 women and grew to over 100. Khadija is the oldest member of the cooperative at the age of 85. Her mother, who is 100 years old, just retired from working.

    When you give opportunity and money to women, they give the opportunity and growth to their families and communities. In this community, they built two schools and day care centers. Most of the women were able to build homes. Marjana is a special cooperative in that the women own the entire co-op. Therefore, the more they produce, the more they are rewarded, and this business model has proved successful for the entire village.

    The argan oil industry has created a pride among the local villages. It is helping to preserve the local landscape and promote the local culture. UNESCO now preserves argan forests of Morocco. The industry has placed huge demands on the Argan forests. There is currently an initiative to plant and grow more trees that is being implemented by the argan cooperatives.

    The traditional production method of argan oil is extremely time-consuming and laborious. It is done in the women’s cooperatives. They take the argan nut and process it in various stages such as cracking, pulping, grinding, and mixing. The entire process involves about 40 hours of manual labor to produce just 1 liter of oil. You can see why they call it “Liquid Gold”! This provides the women with as much work as they would like, and they work either at home or with the community in a social setting.

    The current challenge of the argan oil industry in Morocco is in keeping up with the huge international demands.

    The financial benefits reaped from selling the oil have allowed the village people to stay put and grow their own local economy instead of heading to the big cities to find work. The women have taken the money to build schools, homes, and community centers for the villages. The villages are thriving, and this has had an impact on the self-esteem and pride of the local people.

    There is also the impact that this has had on the young women of Moroccan villages that were originally expected to stay home and attend to family obligations. We are now seeing young women strive for education and work opportunities for themselves and their families. The young women are now seeing themselves as important members of the community and defenders of the tradition and culture. They are having dreams beyond family life.

    The current challenge of the argan oil industry in Morocco is in keeping up with the huge international demands. There have been some European manufacturers that are coming to the area to build facilities that produce the oil using machines and chemical extraction methods, in order to produce massive quantities. This could result in a challenge to the local communities to keep the women’s cooperative involved in this process and to preserve the quality of the argan oil that is exported. It is all a work in progress and evolves daily.

    I have seen the benefits that the commercial success of argan oil in the European and American markets has had on the local women’s cooperatives in Morocco. The benefits have extended from the individuals to the families to the communities and beyond. I would encourage all lovers of argan oil to look for argan oil products that are sourced from local women’s cooperatives in order to preserve the tradition and customs of the local Moroccan people. In this way, you enjoy the gift of beauty, and Moroccan women and communities may thrive from sharing it with you.

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