All hail the sunflower, king of the good oils

Sunflowers are grown all over the world and are a hugely important and valuable agricultural commodity. They are incredibly beautiful and there’s nothing like driving through the country when it’s sunflower season, with fields as far as the eye can see of these gorgeous yellow flowers that give the impression they’re turning their heads to the sun – hence their name in French (tournesols) and Spanish (girasoles).

Although it was commonly accepted that the sunflower was first domesticated in what is now the southeastern USA (the Sunflower is the official flower of Kansas), roughly 5000 years ago, there is archaeological evidence that it was actually first domesticated in Mexico around 2600 BC.

In fact many indigenous American peoples used the sunflower as the symbol of the sun and sun gods, including the Aztecs and the Otomi of Mexico and the Incas in South America. It’s still used for its many…

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