Morocco's argan oil is now the most expensive edible oil in the world. Growing high-value argan markets have sparked a bonanza of argan activity. NGOs, international and domestic development agencies, and argan oil cooperatives have promoted the win–win aim of simultaneously benefiting locals and the argan forest. We test this win–win claim by surveying households before and after rapid appreciation in argan prices. The argan boom has benefited some rural households. Those well positioned to benefit increased their goat herds more than other households, which bodes poorly for forest impacts, and were more likely to send their girls to secondary school. While locals are keeping their goats out of argan trees during the harvest, they may also be resorting to more aggressive harvesting techniques. The boom has made households vigilant guardians of fruit on their own trees, but has not incited investments in longer term tree and forest health.