Argan oil has been a beauty buzzword for the last several years. Pressed from the nuts of the Moroccan argan tree, this light, golden oil has significant anti-inflammatory properties, and is found in countless hair and skin care products. Argan oil is also considered a specialty/health food product, due to its clean, nutty flavor and high levels of linoleic acid and nutrients (seriously, try it in your next vinaigrette or drizzled on soup).
What most people don’t realize is how the oil is harvested. For anyone who’s spent time traveling in rural northern Morocco, the sight of goats in argan trees, like so many magpies, isn’t uncommon. According to the Daily Mail, however, the native Tamri goats are actually part of what’s become a highly profitable cottage industry.
The animals feast upon the argan berries, and the fruit and pulp are absorbed into their digestive tracts. Berber women then collect their droppings, and remove the remaining nuts, from which the oil is then extracted. Think of it as the kopi luwak of the beauty industry.
Unfortunately, the global demand for argan oil is so great, the tree population is thought to be half of what it was 50 years ago, reports the Daily Mail. Conservationists are now pleading with herders to keep their goats out of the trees, so the berries can fall to the ground and reseed.
Despite the environmental complications, there’s just something about goats in trees that’s irresistible. Check out the gallery for a whimsical tour of Morocco’s acrobatic, aerial caprines.
[Photo credit: Flickr user greenzowie">greenzowie]