Here’s a fun game of horticultural “Truth or Dare”.
Growing sunflowers for snacking seed seems “out there” to me at least. There would have to be an extremely delicious type that I’ve not heard of or grown yet. The “freshness” of a nut’s taste is sometimes a result of its ripening after a few weeks or months. The nutritional value changes little, unless the nuts are neglected for years or stored in moist conditions or a place that changes temperature. A rich, “nutty” flavor in a nut comes as much with age as with genetics. A “fresh” nut—right off the tree—can be a bit harsh.
But the costs of “growing your own” sunflowers are a bit staggering. One pound, de-hulled, roasted and lightly salted, of premium quality seeds will run you about $10-12. However, acceptable quality de-hulled, roasted and salted sunflower seed sells for $3.00 to $4.00 per pound in the generic aisle. In any case, that’s a heck of a lot of seed—a family of four can luxuriously snack off one pound for a week. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to be a cost-savings that is, literally, for the birds. Try ‘Super Snack Hybrid’; maybe you’ll make me a liar.
Another “no-brainer” is dried or shell beans, the nutritional value of which I’ve written about (please see Readers Respond!). These are a fabulous deal at the supermarket. Even at rare premium levels, dried beans are the world’s greatest bargain. Also, the “freshness” issue pertains here as in the case of the sunflower. Even more profoundly—you don’t eat them; you dry them first, then boil them, and then eat them. So much for freshness.
But, get a load of the cost (and remember, dried beans—not fresh green beans): one pound of any of the great types costs about $1.50 to $2.00, and the resulting large pot will feed a family for several days. Again, unless the taste, or exoticism factor are so compelling that you absolutely must grow your own dry beans (‘Scarlet Runner’, ‘Italian Rose’, ‘Cannelino’—a rare white kidney—or a rare Corsican flageolet), “buy your own”.