Zoubida Charrouf and the Story Behind Morocco’s Argan Oil – CNN’s African Voices

CNN, African Voices, by Errol Barnett (March 10, 2014) — Zoubida Charrouf is a professor and research scientist in Morocco who wanted to save the argan tree forests, which are indigenous to Morocco and deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, but were in danger of being squeezed out between the advances of rapid regional development and the encroachment of the vast Sahara desert.

With her research, Charrouf discovered that argan oil, with its unique cosmetic and culinary qualities, could be the key to both saving the argan tree and empowering rural Berber women who had little opportunity for employment or education. Until, that is, the passion of one professor unlocked the door to what is now a remarkable story of environmental success and women’s empowerment.

CNN’s Errol Barnett interviews Zoubida Charrouf, the mother of the argan oil revolution in Morocco, in a three-part series for African Voices:

 

Watch it here:

Part 1: Passion drives Moroccan professor

Part 2: Inside Morocco’s argan oil co-op

Part 3: The business of argan oil

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Moroccan beauty secrets unveiled

Ever wondered why everyone is talking about Moroccan women and their beauty secrets?

Fir centuries we have practiced the same body beauty regimen in the communal hammam bathhouses or in the privacy of our own bathroom.

You too can achieve healthy, glowing skin in 3 easy steps, 30 minutes, once a week.

To find out how, download your free booklet here.

The truth about Argan Oil

‘Oh Moroccan Argan Oil, I put it in my hair, I didn’t know you could put it on your skin……’?

Moroccan Argan oil has become incredibly popular over the last few years as a hair care product and has been hailed as ‘the secret of Moroccan women’.

This statement always makes me slightly squirm. Last time I checked with my mother and the women in my family, we weren’t keeping a bottle of argan oil as a secret from the rest of the world in a box with our incense and jewels.

Many Moroccans say when asked about the oil ‘Oh Argan Oil, I dip my freshly baked warm bread in it, make Amlou or use it for cooking and salads’. You see the difference between cosmetic argan oil and culinary argan oil is that one comes from the unroasted argan kernel and the culinary oil comes from the roasted argan kernel. Pure cosmetic Argan Oil is incredible for SKIN, HAIR and NAILS.

khobz

Fresh baked Moroccan bread

So how do you know if you are buying the real stuff?

1. Packaging
Clear or even worse plastic packaging is a gianormous no no!! This should be a very big red light alert! Any self respecting producer of Argan Oil knows the worth of this oil and would never ever put their precious oil in clear or worse plastic packaging. Clear packaging makes the oil detoriate. The light breaks down the great properties of the oil. So make sure your argan oil comes in a dark glass bottle.

2.Read
Read your ingredient listing. ‘Pure Argan Serum’, ‘Moroccan Argan Oil’, ‘Moroccan Berber Oil’ are a few terms that are being used by hair care brands to make you think what you are buying is pure. It’s very simple. If argan oil is the fourth, fifth or sixth ingredient on the list, it means you are not getting the full benefits of the oil. You might as well go and crack open that very expensive bottle of champagne, dilute it with 20 liter of luke warm tap water and say you are drinking champagne. Catch my drift?

3. Smell
Pure Argan Oil does not contain any added perfumes or scents. Cosmetic argan Oil has this beautiful slight nutty scent that dissolves after a couple of seconds after application. If your oil smells really strong, it might mean that the oil has gone rancid.

4.Pricing
I got a bargain and paid ten bucks for this Oil. That is not going to happen I am afraid. Argan oil is a labour intensive oil, it takes a long time to produce one liter of this precious oil. On the bright side, you only need a small amount for your skin, nails and hair. A bottle will last you anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

5. Quality
Like olive oil, there are differences in quality in Argan Oil. Unfortunately the industry has gone absolutely rampant and there is more demand in Argan oil. Some producers don’t wait until the nuts have ripened and try to harvest the nuts before they are ready, which produces bad quality argan oil. (I will talk more about the industry in a future blog post).

6.Sediment
Check your argan oil, if it is even and clear it might be too refined. Good quality cosmetic Argan Oil has some sediment or cloud. The less the oil has been put through strainers or deodorised the better.

7. Feel, look and touch
Pure Argan Oil has a beautiful light texture, it is not slimey and is absorbed by your skin immediately and has a light golden colour.

8. Age
The freshest argan oil is the best oil. Look for oils that are recently pressed, not ones that are gathering dust on the shelves of shops. Mira’s Hand argan oil is flown out every three months and pressed in small batches especially for us.

Read my follow up blog post here.

At Mira’s Hand we offer the highest quality available of pure Organic Moroccan Argan Oil.

The journey

This is along overdue posts on our recent trip to Morocco in July/August.

It was time to go, to go and visit the women that make all of this possible. We booked our tickets, packed our bags and made the long journey to Morocco.

First, we met with Dr. Zoubida Charrouf in Rabat, we were nervous and asked her many questions. She was calm, gracious and generous. You see Madame Charrouf formed the first women’s co-operative in Morocco many moons ago and is the authority on the subject of Argan trees, Argan Oil and anything Argan related. Watch a recent CNN documentary here.

Dr. Charrouf and Jamila at her office in Rabat, Morocco.

We continued our journey to Marrakech where we caught up with old and new friends and had a little bit of downtime at a fabulous Hammam spa or two. We ventured down all the way to Agadir, via Essaouira, meeting old and making new friends and visiting more hammams*. Our friend Ayoub who runs arts café Picasso in the seaside town of Essaouira taught us to play the guembri (a three stringed skin-covered bass). We crushed Argan nuts at a women’s co-op near Agadir and ate freshly churned butter with warm steamy bread out of the stone oven in my fathers town. We soaked our bodies and minds in the sun, enjoyed the stories, the food and the music.

Cracking nuts and jokes with the lovely women at the co-operative.

The trip was fabulous and gave us energy and inspiration to continue with what we are doing. While we are in Morocco we received many Facebook messages and tweets urging us to organise a tour as we were sharing our experiences on our social media pages.

Which led us to:

Mira’s Hand Women Only Wellness tours to Morocco will take place in September 2013, where we will guide you on a tour to discover the real Morocco that I grew up with. In association with my personal contacts and friends, the tour incorporates visits to a variety of personally selected spas and hammams, shopping destinations, cooking and yoga classes and dancing.

The Spa at the La Mamounia

The upcoming September2013 tour concludes at a women’s Argan co-operative where the group (maximum of 12 women) will experience a private afternoon of celebration that includes, music, dancing and eating fresh Moroccan food, prepared by the women of the co-operative but with your involvement. The aim of the 2013 tour is to immerse you in the authentic and revitalising spirit of Morocco, which culminates in a presentation to the co-operative of a donation to assist in paying for the healthcare insurance of the women and their families, a small, but potentially life changing contribution.

To register your interest in the tour contact  Rosie Richardson at JetSet Travel via email rosie.centralmelbourne@jetset.com.au or phone 03 9642 5138.

*Our article on Hammams will appear in the November 2012 issue of Spa Australasia, a specialist spa services and operations publication.

Baby it’s cold outside

When it is this cold outside, there is nothing I love more than a bowl of piping hot Moroccan Harrira soup. This soup is traditionally eaten during the fasting month of Ramadan and at weddings for breakfast.


Serves:
 4-6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
½ bunch coriander
½ bunch parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 large onions
1 little tub of tomato paste
1 can of diced tomatoes
100 gram of vermicelli
150 gram of diced lean veal
100 gram of soaked chickpeas
100 gram of soaked lentils
1 teaspoon powder ginger
1 tablespoon of paprika powder
2 threads of saffron
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 teaspoon of cumin
salt and pepper to taste
5 small tomatoes
1 liter of water
100 gram of flour

In a food processor chop the parsley, onions and coriander together. Saute in the pan and add olive oil, powdered ginger, paprika powder, saffron, tumeric, pepper and salt.
Stir for 4 or five minutes on a low heat. Meanwhile cook the tomatoes in water for 8 minutes and chop in a food processor, add to the pan.

Add chickpeas, lentils, diced tomatoes, water and stir well. Add the veal and the tub of tomato paste. Leave to simmer on a medium to low heat for half an hour. Mix the flour in a bowl of water and add the mix and vermicelli to the soup, stir well for 15 minutes on a low heat.

Serve in soup bowls with bread and dates.

Besaha!