Is commercially grown cilantro less flavorful than it used to be?

Posting here for my mom, who has been saying for years that store-bought cilantro is bland compared to the herb she used to grow at home. Here’s what she says:

Are American growers using too much nitrogen to produce big tall cilantro branches? The flavor is weaker than it was 20 years ago, absolutely bland. Somehow it has been diluted, maybe in an effort to increase production, or else in an effort to make it palatable to more American palates…? What is wrong with it? I will make an effort to grow my own again next year, but it gets hot so fast here that it bolts early. It requires cool temps. Maybe growers have done something to alter the seeds/plants so they grow in more moderate conditions, and this has removed the distinctive flavor? I don’t think it’s my taste buds.

What do you think? Have any of you noticed a difference over the years?

It loses some flavor in shipping and storage too.

Speaking strictly for myself, there’s not much that doesn’t taste weaker than it did 20 years ago.


With all due respect to your Mom, people lose some sense of taste as they age.


I agree with your mom’s sentiment and find it true for many herbs/products. A good example of this is basil. I often see basil with huge leaves the size of baby spinach leaves and no flavor. I suspect it is the amount of fertilizer given and how quickly they grow with no time to develop flavonoids. It really varies by grower. The good stuff is still out there. It’s just harder to find.


I’d agree with your mom generally, though its hard to remember exactly how things were like. When they push the plants to grow bigger so they can harvest earlier, the plants (in this case, cilantro), have more water content and less chance to develop flavor (the minerals and other compounds).

I haven’t noticed a big difference but if you want a stronger cilantro flavor look for culantro