Should we be buying organic versions of herbs? Recent routine USDA testing found over 30 unapproved pesticides on cilantro. The find came as part of the agency’s yearly testing of a rotating selection of produce. Cilantro was the first fresh herb to be tested in the 20-year-old program, so it’s possible that other herbs are harboring potentially dangerous pesticides. According to the Chicago Tribune, researchers suspect that “growers may have confused guidelines for cilantro and flat-leaf parsley, for which more pesticides are approved.” Unfortunately, this also means that more pesticides can be used on parsley.
So how do we know what other herbs harbor potentially harmful pesticides? Nearly every herb in the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) pesticides network has a myriad of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides used on it during its growth. The site shows over 40 pesticides used on parsley, 30 on mint, and 11 on tarragon. The PAN pesticides network, however, only shows pesticides used in California.
Since data is not available for all states, buying organic herbs will take the guesswork out of your purchase. Another way to ensure your herbs are safe is to grow your own. Here is a list of 10 essential herbs for you to grow.