Just yesterday I was at Trader Joe’s with my sister. She looked up at the organic cilantro and laughed: “Why would people pay extra for organic cilantro. It is so easy to grow that even the conventional is going to be unsprayed.” So imagine my surprise to wake to the news that cilantro instead tested positive for a whole slew of unapproved pesticides in almost half of the tests! They also found approved pesticides present in illegal amounts.
In all, 94% of the cilantro samples carried at least one pesticide. 44 % of the samples had residues of at least one unapproved pesticide. Pesticides are approved crop-by-crop so an unapproved pesticide is not necessarily a banned pesticide. Thus some, but not all, of the pesticide residues found illegally on cilantro could be legally present on flat leaf parsley.
A brief summary of the cilantro test results:
A. 94% of cilantro tested had the residue of at least 1 pesticide.
B. 37% of cilantro tested had chlorpyrifros residue, in one case at 3X the legal limit.
C. 44% of cilantro tested had the residue of at least 1 unapproved pesticide. Most of the unapproved residue was within legal limits for other crops but not always: Quintozene came in at 0.3 ppm exceeding its 0.1 ppm limit in tomato paste. Diazanon (banned in 2000 but stockpiles still in use) came in a 1 ppm exceeding its limit of 0.1 to 0.75 ppm on other crops. Azoxystrobin and Captan came in at 16 times the allowable limit on potatoes
Cilantro is easy to grow. It will grow well in pots on your front porch or patio. It will grow indoors. It will thrive and reseed in your garden. And if your green thumb fails you, it seems the organic cilantro is worth the extra quarter or so that it will cost.
I came across the study in the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-cilantro-pesticide-20110531,0,3058450.story?page=1 Good resource to learn more about pesticides on your food http://whatsonmyfood.org/ Cilantro picture: Creative Commons, some rights reserved by Henrique Vincente