Musings on Morocco

Every day I post a Moroccan proverb on Twitter and on our Facebook page.  Some of them are easy to resonate with.   Others are a little ridiculous.  A few are incomprehensible.  These proverbs seem to be quite representative of the country where our Argan Oil is made – the place where Saadia lives.

Visiting Morocco for the first time can be an overwhelming experience for some.  There are things that are easier for foreigners to resonate with.  But other things are surprising, and even ridiculous, to try to understand.  Some things will be utterly incomprehensible.

When in Morocco I find it very easy to resonate with the beauty.  The colour, the gorgeous riads (traditional houses) and the never ending beaches on the coast.

Then there is the surprising.  Entering any medina in any city or town will leave you confused.  There is no rhyme or reason to any of them.  Their ridiculous maze-like streets and lanes are beyond even the most skilled map maker’s abilities.  Just when you think you are on the right track, you hit a dead end.

Then there is the incomprehensible.  When walking through the medina of the capital city of Rabat, I was shocked to see a man with a table set up in the street where many butchers were selling their meat.  The man with the table had a very special kind of meat for sale.  He only sold….

Feet.

Cow feet, sheep feet, goat feet.  I was appalled.  And intrigued.  I asked my husband what people would do with these various animal feet and he said he didn’t know.  I was very unsatisfied with this answer, so I asked again.  “No really.  Why would people buy FEET?”  His answer?

“To make feet tagine.”

Aah, tagine.  The Moroccan answer to both lunch and dinner six days a week.

I discovered an old saying while planning my first trip to Morocco in 2002.  It quickly became one of my favourite things ever written and I’m not even really sure why.

You tell me you are going to Fez. Now, if you say you are going to Fez, that means you are not going. But I happen to know that you are going to Fez. Why have you lied to me, you who are my friend?

Try to wrap your mind around that one!

Or on second thought – don’t try.  Morocco is a fascinating place.  But it is a country that I think is best left unanalyzed.  Just take it for what it is.  Enjoy and adore what is beautiful.  Laugh at what is ridiculous and incomprehensible.  And appreciate that you are somewhere very special and unique.

xo, joèl~

P.S. Fez is an amazing city in northern Morocco. I spent 5 days there on my first trip. Strangely enough, my Moroccan husband hasn’t been there yet! It’s really worth seeing, though. You just have to get really lucky and meet some great people to show you around the city like I did! The medina in Fez is absolutely impossible and wonderful all at once.

 

P.P.S.  For more Musings on Morocco, visit our brand new blog:  saadiaorganics.blogspot.com  — travel tips, cultural tidbits, photos and more.

10 MORE Fabulous Uses for Saadia Organics Argan Oil

1.  Body Exfoliator: Mix ¼ cup raw sugar and ¼ cup brown sugar. Pour Argan Oil over top of mix. This is an amazing exfoliator that will make your body feel softer than ever! If you want an added treat, add a couple of drops of an essential oil to add a favourite scent.

2.  Cream Additive: Add 5 drops of Argan Oil to your hand or body cream to increase its moisturizing abilities.

3.  Acne: Yes…you can use Argan Oil to address acne. Although it is technically an oil, it does not make the skin oily. Instead it will cleanse and detoxify it, getting rid of rogue pimples.

4.  Paint Remover: Can’t get paint off your skin or out of your hair? Rub Argan Oil on the trouble areas, let it sit for five minutes and then rinse with soap and water.

5.  Healing New Piercings: Argan oil will help to promote healthy healing of a fresh piercing.

6.  Skin Chafing: Whether you’re a long-distance runner or a breast-feeding mother, chafing can be so painful. Argan Oil will reduce the inflammation, soothe and speed the healing of the painful area.

7.  Sunburn: Like many other skin conditions, Argan Oil will give fast relief from sunburns.

8.  Massage: Argan Oil is known to aid in joint and muscle pain, so using it as a massage oil is amazing. It will penetrate deep into the muscles, leaving you feeling refreshed. It will also nourish the massager’s hands.

9.  Pre-colour Scalp Treatment: Argan Oil is fabulous to apply on the scalp before hair colour. It will prevent irritation and itchiness and will even the porosity of the hair, allowing the colour to process more evenly. And no, it will not affect the actual colour.

10.  Zipper Fixer: Believe it or not, Argan Oil is great to fix a stuck zipper. Just dab a couple of drops on the head of a cotton swab and apply.

Which one are you going to try first?

Ainslie

The “Dark Side” of the Argan Oil Business

Not too long ago I came across this article:  Argan Oil ~ “Liquid Gold” ~ At What Cost?  And as I’m not afraid of a challenge, I thought I would take the time to respond to the author’s concerns.

He (she?) first discusses the inflated prices of Argan Oil.  When there is a limited supply and a significant demand, yes, costs do increase.  Hopefully, the local Moroccan women making the oil are still benefitting from the popularity of this commodity at least to some extent.

At Saadia Organics we know we do not have the cheapest Argan Oil on the market, nor do we have the most expensive.  We are confident that we are getting the most authentic and pure cosmetic-grade Argan Oil to you.  We use no machinery – all of our oil is cold-pressed by hand using the most traditional methods and that takes many hours of labour.  We add nothing to it, and we take nothing away.  This is the real thing.

We also know that we pay the women who manufacture our oil a very fair price.  In fact, their hourly wage is better than what they would receive if they did their work right here in Vancouver, Canada rather than in Essaouira, Morocco!  And we know they deserve every cent.  This is not easy work that they are doing.

Later in the article, the author goes on to criticize the mixing of Argan Oil with other ingredients.   We whole heartedly agree with his assessment here.  Argan Oil is incredible on its own.  It’s a shame to mess with it – especially when potentially harmful ingredients are added.

So we leave the concocting of potions up to you.  If you’d like to mix your Argan Oil with some raw cane sugar to make an exfoliating scrub, then by all means, do it!  If you want to mix some Argan Oil with lemon juice to soak your nails and cuticles in, that’s wonderful!  I’ve been known to mix a few drops of Argan Oil with a drop of Tea Tree Oil and a drop of Lavendar Oil to put on a blemish.  But I cannot imagine adding silicones, parabens or other nasties to my precious Argan Oil.

The next point that the author raises is this:

Over recent years, the women’s co-operatives have been at the forefront of the Argan Oil boom that began in the 1990s. However, recently, the men are moving in and there is a growing problem with diluted oil, bogus co-operatives and a lack of accreditation.

Again, we agree with his assessment.  Saadia – our production manager, my mother in law, and the person whom our company is named after, is highly suspicious of all Argan Oil other than her own.  It is common knowledge that there are a lot of fakes in Morocco and those fakes get shipped all over the world.  Some is just diluted or poorly manufactured, but should be enough to make buyers wary of purchasing a lot of the Argan Oil that is available.

This is a product that I now know well.  When I entered a flashy cosmetics store a few months ago to sample one popular brand of “pure” Argan Oil I was alarmed.  It didn’t look like Argan Oil (too thin!).  It didn’t smell like Argan Oil (no scent at all!)  And it didn’t feel like Argan Oil (it was kind of slimy!)  But at least it wasn’t sticky or it didn’t sting.  Some of the other brands we’ve been hearing about sound like they are bottling something really frightening and calling it “Argan Oil”.

To confirm my suspicions, I dragged my husband (Saadia’s son) to the mall and asked him to try this supposed Argan Oil.  I thought he would laugh, but he actually looked a bit angry, saying “I have no idea what this is, but it’s definitely not Argan Oil.  How can they get away with selling this?  It’s like that canola oil we have in our kitchen…”

As for Argan Oil co-operatives that the author speaks of, I will now make myself unpopular, and admit that I’m not a fan of them.  As much as I hope there are many good ones in south-western Morocco, the ones I’ve visited have been less than enjoyable.  They have women on display making the oil right in front of you and they look nothing other than miserable.  Tourists take their pictures just as they would take pictures of animals in a zoo.  After the photos are snapped, the women point grimly to a basket for people to put some money in.

We are very fortunate in that Saadia has an unlimited number of female relatives and friends who are more than willing to make our Argan Oil with her.  These are women we know, love and trust.  They get together in a private place and have fun doing their work together.  No one is gawking at them or putting cameras in their faces.  As a rule, Moroccans don’t really enjoy having their pictures taken.  Especially the women, as it is in their faith tradition to be modest, and having their photograph taken and shown to the world is not comfortable at all for them.

Again, I really hope there are some wonderful, fair and comfortable Argan co-ops out there.  I have just have not had the privilege to visit them quite yet.

In addition to all of this, the author of the article is very concerned for the future of the Argan forests.

To make the situation even worse, there are negative impacts on the actual Argan forests themselves. Local people are calling for action.

Yet again, we agree with this statement.  In order to make the most money, many farms growing Argan trees have some very destructive practices.  First, they have goats on the farms.  Goats climb Argania spinosa trees to graze.  The trees are fragile and branches are often broken in the process.  The goats are there for two reasons – they can be raised and eventually sold and they also are a lure for the tourists.  Who doesn’t want a picture of a tree full of goats?  I admit I have several photographs of this from my trips to Morocco.  It is quite a sight to see.  The farmers allow tourists on their land, allow them to take pictures, then ask for a donation.  I no longer will be supporting this damaging practice.

Harvesting is also an issue.  In order to get as much fruit as quickly as possible, aggressive techniques are sometimes used. This further damages the trees and hurts the delicate buds needed in order for the tree to bear fruit the next year.

One thing the Argan Oil boom has done is made it impossible to cut the trees down for use as fuel.  The forests are now protected.  At Saadia Organics, we are committed to helping the situation instead of making it worse.

Saadia inherited a farm a couple of years back and she has been growing olives on her property.  Now, she is in the process of growing her own Argan trees.  We look forward to using only our own fruit to make our oil some day.

For now, we have found an excellent farmer who supplies us with our Argan fruit.  Saadia’s son in law was teaching in a town called Ait Daoud in Essaouira province and he came to know this gentleman well a few years ago.  His farm is away from the highway and hence is away from the picture-taking tourists, and it is, of course, 100% goat-free.  He babies his trees and uses only the gentlest harvesting process.  He waits for the fruit to fall of the trees on its own, and it is just picked up off the ground.  We are very happy to know him well and have him supply us with what we need to get Saadia Organics Argan Oil to you.

Like any industry, the Argan Oil business is not perfect.  But it is an amazing product, and it is bringing money into the hands of Moroccan women and as a result is increasing the educational opportunities for young girls.  The majority of women over 40 have not been educated and have little chance of making any sort of income for themselves.  The Argan Oil industry is a way for them to support themselves and their families.

It is our hope that our initiatives will positively impact this industry and protect this precious commodity not just for now, but in the long term.

If you have any other ideas of how we can bring you the most eco-friendly, authentic and ethical Argan Oil, please let us know! 

Joèl~

 

 

10 New and Fabulous Uses for Saadia Organics Argan Oil

We know that Argan Oil is amazing to use on your skin, hair, and nails. But there are many other ways it can help you with common issues.

1.  Shaving lotion:  Apply Argan Oil liberally your legs, underarms, or face before you shave. The added moisture will help to prevent razor burn.

2.  Razor Burn: apply to sensitive razor burnt skin and the irritation and redness will disappear.

3.  Cracked Heels:  No more embarrassing and painful feet. With one week of consistent use of Argan Oil, you will finally be able to wear those amazing sandals sitting in your closet.

4.  Diaper Rash:  Argan Oil is amazing for treating or preventing diaper rash. And it is great for use with cloth diapers. It will not create a barrier.

5.  Tattoo healing:  Because Saadia Organics Argan Oil is the purest Argan Oil on the market, the extremely high level of vitamin E will help to heal your new tattoo. Meanwhile the essential fatty acids will soothe the skin, eliminating the desire to scratch.

6.  Chapped Lips:  Argan Oil will soak into the lips, repairing any cracking or inflammation while not leaving a greasy feel. It is instant comfort and relief!

7.  Bath Oil: Add five drops of Argan Oil into a warm bath to soak into your skin and muscles. You will relax like never before!

8.  Eye Makeup Remover:  A couple of drops on a cotton ball will help to remove any eye makeup.

9.  Muscle and Stress Relief: Argan Oil has been known to aid rheumatism. Rub Argan Oil on your shoulders and temples and sit back and relax for 30 minutes. You will feel calm and soothed.

10.  Children’s Runny Nose Irritation: Apply Argan Oil under your child’s nose and on his or her upper lip to prevent and treat irritation caused by a runny nose.

Good luck!

Ainslie

Exciting Pre-Holiday Promo!

Free shipping and we pay the tax on your Argan Oil.

$10 total for 10 ml

$45 total for 50 ml

Just for a limited time, no promotion code necessary.  Enjoy!

Visit:  http://www.saadiaorganics.com

(note:  Prices are in Canadian Funds.)

Have a great day, everyone!

“I Like Argan Oil” – by Saadia’s Granddaughter, Eden, Age 4

(Dictated to Joèl, her Mom.)

I like Argan Oil because it makes my skin really soft and nice.  I don’t really like other stuff on my face because those other things make my face itchy.

I also like our Argan Oil so much because the bottles are so pretty.  And they have stickers on them.  Every time I see our pretty blue bottles I want to use some Argan Oil. My mommy lets me use lots.

My Grandma Saadia makes our Argan Oil at Morocco. She mashes the Argan stuff and makes it into oil.   I remember going to the Argan tree forest.  And we saw goats there.  But my Mommy says goats aren’t good for Argan trees because they climb the trees and eat the fruit.  They break the branches sometimes. No goats come close to our Argan trees.

I couldn’t eat Argan fruit because they are not tasty for people or girls.  But I was holding one Argan fruit in this picture.

I could eat some Argan Oil on bread, though, and some peanut buttery stuff with Argan Oil which was yummy.  (note:  The “peanut buttery” stuff is called amlou.  It’s made from honey, almonds and Argan Oil. And yes, it is yummy.)   I was happy that I could bring lots of Argan “shells” home.  They are pretty and look nice in my Moroccan basket.

We don’t have Argan trees in Canada.  But that means we can go to Morocco to see them.  I like the beach there, too.  (In Essaouira.)  We walked there and found sea shells.  I also rode a camel on that beach.  His name was “Shakala” (Chocolate).  He was super tall.  I wasn’t scared.

Thank you for reading my article on Argan Oil.  The end.

Eden

Testimonials!

What people are saying about Saadia Organics Argan Oil:

“It’s kept my toddler’s diaper rash at bay.  As long as we keep using the Argan Oil, he’s fine!”

“My hair was feeling like straw after a long winter.  I worked some Argan Oil through it one night and slept with a shower cap over it.  After I washed it the next morning, it felt like silk.”

“Someone once told me the pores on my face were big and that comment stuck with me.  After using this stuff, they have totally shrunk.”

“My forehead used to be super oily.  After using Argan Oil for just a few days the oiliness disappeared.  Who would think that oil would get rid of oily skin?”

“You know those bumps you get on your bikini line?  Ingrown hairs, razor burn and all of that awful stuff?  On a whim when things were looking pretty bad, I put Argan Oil on my skin.  The red bumps and irritation were gone the next morning.”

“I scar very easily.  I’ve had some reddish scars on my very pale skin for years.  After using Argan Oil on them for just a few days they are not nearly as noticeable.”

“I’m a guy with psoriasis.  Someone recommended this oil to me and I gave it a try.  It works better than the prescription I get from my doctor.”

“I’m getting to the point in life where when I pushed down on my skin with a fingertip, the skin stayed indented.  It didn’t bounce back.  Now that I’m using Argan Oil regularly, my skin springs right back to where it should be.”

“No more pimples for me!  I’ve spent years avoiding products with oil in them to help with my acne.  Now I’m putting pure Argan Oil on my face and my skin finally looks great.”

“My daughter gets little patches of eczema on her face.  Argan Oil takes it away after a couple of applications.  It’s nice not to have to use hydrocortisone on her anymore.”

“My wrinkles are disappearing!  I particularly hate the ones on my forehead.  I barely notice them anymore.”

“We are a cloth diaper family.  We love our adorable, fluffy diapers and are really terrified of letting regular diaper rash cream anywhere near them.  This Argan Oil has been a God-send.  It works great.  As a crunchy mama, I’m glad it’s all natural.  It also keeps our diapers looking good and absorbing well.”

“I had the worst cracked heels in the universe.  For many years.  I couldn’t even go in for a pedicure.  Within a week of using your Argan Oil a couple of times a day my feet actually started to look normal.  I’m thrilled.