For centuries, Africans, Indians, and other ancient cultures have grown to love the land, tending their farms and grazing their animals with no help from fertilizers, pesticides or hormones. What we now call organic is simply nature’s intended way for humans to live. The Magnifolia tree, originating from the sub-Sahara region of Africa, is one of nature’s most resilient trees that defy cultivation, the use of pesticides, fertilizer and other artificial growth techniques. Being true to nature, it springs up without being planted, while thriving and flourishing on tropical rain and sunlight.
Every year this tree produces an edible fruit (shea fruit) which is known by different names in different languages. The English word shea comes from ‘s’í, the tree’s name in the Bamana language of Mali. The Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa, call the tree Igi mi and the derived butter – òrí Amó – which is extracted from its nut by crushing and grinding the nuts, boiling the ground paste and scooping the good oil as it rises to the surface of the cooking pot. The resultant shea butter varies in colour from light yellow to olive to ivory. This natural fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) is consumed in the diet of natives, and is also widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion.