Go, Go, Jojoba

Growers bet on a desert bean

"We know it has a great future," says Desert Agriculturalist Kennith Foster of the University of Arizona. "We just aren't sure exactly what it is."

The object of Foster's uncertainty is a brown, peanut-size bean called the jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-bah). Nearly a decade ago, researchers found that oil extracted from the beanlike seeds of the jojoba bush, which grows wild in the desert of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, could substitute for dwindling supplies of sperm whale oil.

The oil of the endangered sperm whale was used for years...

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