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The Miracle of Sunflower Seeds

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | October 26, 2011

I spent some time today in a garden and was awed and humbled: After 39 years on this planet, I finally learned where sunflower seeds come from.

Now, some of you are picking yourselves up off the floor after a severe fit of laughter, while others may be thinking, “well, wait a minute… where do sunflower seeds come from?”  Obviously, I knew they come from sunflowers.  But I never thought about it further than that, and if I did I might have wondered just exactly where in the sunflower those lovely black and white seeds are stored.

For those of you who also don’t know: there’s no shame in that!  Many of us were raised in cities, and though we might have grown tomatoes on our fire escapes or tried to plant a windowsill garden, such a thing as a big and unruly sunflower blasting forth from the soil was something we only saw in photos or on an annual trip to get ears of corn from a farmstand upstate.  And though we might have eaten bags of the seeds throughout Junior High, how many of us have ever eaten fresh ones?  (leave a comment below if you have, I’m curious!)

So, yes, I was awed because it’s like one of the secrets of the Universe was revealed to me, and I’m suddenly realizing how many things I eat or use with absolutely no idea where they’ve come from or how they’re grown or made.  For example, where do sesame seeds come from? what exactly is blue-green algaehow do laser printers workCan we eat acorns as we eat other tree nuts? What is baking soda? What does the spleen do? What’s the difference between mold and mildew?  These things which are around us all the time– how much do we know about any of it, really?  In fact, here’s a good one: how does the internet work?

If you’re still wondering about the sunflower seeds, here’s the secret: what we call a “sunflower” is actually the “flower head,” with hundreds of “florets” in the center– the soft, fuzzy middle part.  Those florets are what mature into seeds!  So when we see a beautiful bursting sunflower, the seeds are being formed underneath that thick protective center bit.  When the flower dies and dries out, those florets drop away and the sunflower seeds are revealed.  Looks like this– check out the seeds tucked in their neat rows:

It’s just brought home to me how little I know about my environment, even though I care so much about helping to protect it.  And it’s inspiring me to look– really look– at my surroundings and seeing what else I can learn about these things I take for granted and which sustain me.

Any recent astonishing bits of new knowledge in your life lately?  And, did you know how sunflower seeds grew?

Topics: Food | 4 Comments »

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Comment by Alyssa
2011-10-26 09:42:18

I grew sunflowers next to my front door every year growing up. When the deer or birds didn’t get to them first, fresh ones are the best! :)

Comment by Rox
2011-10-26 18:19:21

I grew sunflowers this year and learned something new at the same time:



Comment by Jenn
2011-10-27 11:12:12

I KNOW. When I saw that insanely beautiful pattern, my head nearly exploded. It’s so trippy I can’t really talk about it yet. :)

Comment by Jenn
2011-10-27 11:13:01

Alyssa, I’m going to have to actually eat a few– I thought they had to be roasted first. Oh my gosh, I’m learning so much this week!


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