Authentic Women’s Co-operatives

  • Since we began working with argan oil, we have purchased exclusively from a collective of twenty-two women’s co-operatives called the L’UCFA (L’Union des Coopératives des Femmes de l’Arganeraie). Over time, we identified the argan oil from one specific co-operative as the most exquisite. That co-operative is Al Amal, the sole producer of the hand-pressed, certified organic argan oil we use in so many of our products.

  • To celebrate this relationship and these women, we visited them in Morocco and funded the planting of four hundred argan trees. It will take between six and eight years for the trees to mature to fruit, and as such is a beautiful investment for both of our futures.

  • The argan oil from the Al Amal Women’s Co-operative is traditionally hand- processed. Harvested, peeled, cracked and pressed – all by hand. It’s USDA certified organic. The fruit is harvested between June and September. Instead of making one entire batch for the year, Al Amal stores the dried fruit and makes the oil as needed throughout the year, ensuring optimal freshness.

  • Unfortunately, the majority of argan oil sold in the skin care industry today is mass-produced by private companies often claiming association with women’s co-operatives without evidence. According to BEFAIR, the Belgian Development Agency, less than 10% of the argan oil exported from Morocco today is made by legitimate women’s co-operatives.

  • In an effort to cut corners, most of the argan oil produced by these ghost co-operatives is created from goat-digested argan kernels. Goats climb argan trees, eat the fruit, and the seeds are collected from their droppings. The oil extracted from goat-excreted argan is highly processed and deodorized, thus removing much of the nutrient value, and greatly compromising the quality of the oil. Even certified organic argan oil can come from goat-excreted argan kernels.

  • Truth seekers should look for: The name of the co-operative from which the argan is produced, and specific pronouncement against goat-excreted argan. Most legitimate women’s co-operatives are members of the National Association of Argan Co-operatives (ANCA): http:// www.anca-maroc.com/en/liste-des-cooperatives

  • Truth heals: Hand-harvested and hand-pressed argan oil is superior in every way to goat-excreted argan. By supporting authentic women’s co-operatives we contribute to the economic autonomy and self-empowerment of the indigenous Amazigh women.

Empowering Tribal Villages

  • Since 2007, we have worked with the women of Kpersi Village in northwestern Ghana. Our purchases of this singular shea butter have seen over one hundred village women secure a better livelihood for their families, while providing three hundred and fifty school uniforms for their children, and funding the purchase and construction of a grinding mill and milling shed — the life force of the community.

  • The women of Kpersi make shea butter the traditional way; hand-harvesting wild, ripe shea fruit and then spending days transforming it into creamy rich butter. To assure purity and natural processing, we have co-funded the organic certification of Kpersi Village shea butter.

  • Truth seekers should look for: Certified organic shea butter ensures that shea butter is not processed with hexane, a common but highly toxic solvent. To ensure shea butter is coming from small-scale producers and supporting tribal villages, look for the name of the village.

  • Truth heals: Responsible wild-crafting, in combination with small-scale, non-industrial production methods, respects the earth and retains the vitality, potency, purity of plant material. By supporting tribal villages we empower indigenous cultures and cultivate healthy relationships with our global community.

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