Rare oil made from goat-pooped pits may save North African tree

For centuries, since even before the Phoenicians arrived (there goes the neighborhood!), goats have climbed Morocco’s evergreen argan trees to munch their leaves and fruits. Then they poop or spit out the undigested fruit pits. Then shepherds root through the poop, pick out the pits, extract the interior kernels, and use them to make a nutty oil popular for cooking and cosmetics. They don’t call it Nutty Poop Oil, but we do. Now, however, overgrazing and firewood gathering are imperiling the argan’s survival, and an offbeat coalition — including Prince Albert II of Monaco and folks jonesing for the oil’s anti-aging properties — is working to create a global market for the precious oil and thereby establish the value of preserving the argan trees. “The people in the area are poor,” said Khaddouj Erraiss, an argan oil promoter, “and if they understand the value of the tree they’ll protect it.” And we’re sure they’ll appreciate the extra poop-collecting work.