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Where does our bird seed come from?

sunflower,black oil,bird food.
Back in December I posted here about sunflower seed, for bird food, and promised to follow up with news of where the sunflower seed that our birds devour with such enthusiasm actually comes from.

Well, none of the bags in the local stores seemed to enlighten me. So, when I was in our friendly local farm supplies store, Farm Plus, yesterday, buying yet another bag of black oil sunflower seed ($18.96 for 40lb – 47 cents a pound, Don't you just love a bargain?), I asked where it was grown.

In North & South Dakota, it seems, the sunflower seed heartland of America. The fields of sunflowers I see growing in New Jersey, it turns out, are either grown for cut flowers or – and this was a surprise – for sileage.

But there was an interesting extra facet to the issue: When sunflowers are grown for bird seed, they’re often sprayed with a dessicant before harvesting, in the same way as potatoes, to help ease their way through the harvester. Potato growers used to use paraquat, which is not a nice chemical, perhaps they still do. So, does that mean we have to look for organically grown sunflower seed for our birds?

Well, in the USA you can buy organically grown sunflower seed from Harrison Bird Foods. In the UK you can buy organically grown sunflower seed from Vine House Farm, based not so far from our home town in England.

But I have to say, here in Pennsylvania I’ll continue buying my black oil sunflower seed from Farm Plus. I like to support independent local businesses.

BTW, anyone know where non-organic black oil sunflower seed sold in Britain is grown?


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