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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reader Question - Sunflower Sprouts

My spinach patch and other parts of the garden are full of newly sprouted sunflower seedlings. Weeds, of course, because I don't want them there. I picked one, nibbled it, and it tasted just like a sunflower kernel. Yum! My question is twofold: are sunflowers among edible sprouts (like alfalfa, etc.), and if so, are they perfectly OK to harvest, even if I didn't plant them or know the source? I guess a third question, based on these two: what size or other guidelines for harvest? (I've grown sunflowers enough to recognize their seedlings.) Typing this seems so silly. If the end product is edible, the other parts should be, right? But do we eat strawberry leaves?

Please leave a comment if you have any advice!


Anonymous said...

According to our local farmer's market you can eat Sunflower sprouts. They sell these along with onion sprouts, broccoli sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. I rinse them, dry them and stuff them in pita pockets. Onions sprouts are my favorite but I enjoy them all.

Kim said...

Just because a plant has edible parts doesn't mean the whole plant is edible. For instance tomato plants are toxic if you eat the leaves.

Proverbs Thirty One Woman said...

You can definitely sprout sunflowers and eat them. You wouldn't want to eat sprouts from seeds sold for the garden, because they could be sprayed with chemicals. However, these sound like volunteers, so they should be fine!

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

hi there, i am your newest follower! i found this article on sprouts.com, sure hope it helps you! i just emailed you too.

Food poisoning and sprouts

There have been several recent news stories regarding salmonella contamination in sprouts. These have been combined with warnings from the FDA and the CFIA that sprouts could be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria and advising the very old, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems to avoid raw sprouts.

I feel that the stories were far overblown because it made interesting news- that the "original health food" might be bad for you.

What can you do to be extra safe?

Use certified organic seeds. Organic certification assures that seeds have been grown and handled in a manner that helps minimize possible sources of contamination. Manure used on organic fields, for example, must be composted for a long period. Composting has been shown to reduce or eliminate pathogens in manure. Organic farmers are also required to use rodent and bird proof storage for seeds destined for consumption. Organic sprouting seeds haven't been implicated in any outbreak of food poisoning.

Make sure that any seeds you buy have been handled as a food crop and not a farm planting seed crop. Seeds that have been in contact with animals or animal waste could be contaminated with salmonella or e-coli O157 H7, leading to food poisoning. Reputable sprouting seed suppliers test all lots of seed for contamination.

Refrigerate finished sprouts. Treat sprouts and foods containing sprouts as you would any nutritious food- refrigerate until used.

If you collect your own garden seeds, make sure to dry them and store them in a clean and rodent-free environment.

For more information on the relative risks of sprouts compared to other foods, see this article by the Sproutman, Steve Meyerowitz. I feel that home grown sprouts, especially grown from certified organic seed, are far safer than a hamburger or a potato salad at a picnic.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'd eat them unless you are sure of their source. We get sunflower sprouts all over our yard but it is from seeds the birds have dropped out of the bird seed we feed and that our neighbors feed. But if you planted sunflowers there last year and the seeds spilled, then make a salad and enjoy!