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Taco prices are going up in Mexico and a certain soapy herb is to blame

DON GONYEA, HOST:

In Mexico, the price of cilantro has soared to unprecedented highs, and that's a problem because cilantro is essential to Mexican cuisine. Emily Green reports from Mexico City.

EMILY GREEN, BYLINE: Go to any taco stand in Mexico, and you will find three condiments - limes, onions and cilantro.

CARMEN ARRIOLA: (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREEN: Carmen Arriola sells tacos on a busy street in Mexico City.

ARRIOLA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: Except now, she isn't putting cilantro on her tacos.

ARRIOLA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "The price of cilantro is through the roof right now," she says. A bundle of cilantro that used to cost around $7 is now nearly 30.

ARRIOLA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: She says she has never seen the price so high before. I visit my local market to find out more.

NORMA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: Senora Norma runs a vegetable stand. She said the price increase as a product of the drought and heat wave sweeping the country. But it really spiked in Mexico City after heavy rains and hail drowned the crop, creating a shortage.

NORMA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "It was the rains plus the heat wave," she says. "Climate change, that's why the price of cilantro is so high. Still, she says, people keep buying.

NORMA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "In the Mexican diet, cilantro is central to everything," she says, "along with avocados, lime, tomato and onion." I should add here, not everyone likes cilantro. There are an unfortunate subset of people who think it tastes like soap, including a few of my family members. But they are in the minority. At a food stand in the market, I ask Guillermo Flores his thoughts on life without cilantro. He's a doctor and eating lunch at one of the stalls.

GUILLERMO FLORES: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "Food doesn't taste the same," he says.

(Speaking Spanish).

Is a taco without cilantro even worth it? - I ask.

FLORES: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "Oof," he says. "We eat them out of necessity, but they're not really tasty." And there you have it. Life without cilantro just isn't as good.

For NPR News, I'm Emily Green in Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Emily Green
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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