Rob Taylor: Overcoming my addiction to sunflower seeds
February 18, 2008
Redemption comes in the form of vermin this year. If you’ve already bombed your New Year’s resolution (like most Americans), the Chinese New Year offers a second chance to do the right thing in the Year of the Rat.
Inspired by rats? Me neither, but props to Disney for dressing up the rodent’s image last year with the film “Ratatouille.” (Best line: When the rat dad tells his son to “Shut up and eat your garbage.”)
Too late for me though; I already failed my resolution. It’s the rat’s fault, I’ve decided. He’s an easy target. I feel no connection to the animal, unless you count the heebie jeebies. If it were the Year of the Rocky Mountain Moose – the epitome of raw strength and intimidation – I might have been more inspired.
This year’s “Mission Impossible” – my resolution – was to conquer the Mount Everest of all vices: Sunflower seeds. Going in, I knew that my resolve would be tested, since I had been running with the wrong crowd for a while.
Just after Thanksgiving, I stumbled into Brenda Rust’s work cubicle punishing a wad of chewing gum.
“Got any seeds? I just downed my last bag,” I said in desperate tones.
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“I got you covered.” She filled my Styrofoam cup with Dakota Kids, the sunflower seed equivalent of a Cuban cigar.
Two spits later, I broke the news.
“The grocery store is out of ‘Kids’.”
It was like Y2K all over again, and neither of us was prepared. We stared at the bag on her desk ” the last bag in the county, or so we thought. Our minds played out doomsday scenarios: Rationing seeds, running dry or Russian roulette – eating inferior brands. There would be chaos, we realized, as the “Dakota Kids Famine” took hold.
A few hours later, we discovered that Susan, our co-worker, had just been to City Market and purchased the last four bags. Not wanting to develop a reputation as a seed hoarder, she shared, putting an end to our suffering.
Ironically, it was Susan who inspired my resolution.
The week before Christmas, she tossed several bags of Kids on my desk.
“Merry Christmas,” she said. “I’m clean.”
“You know where to find me if things get ugly.”
The suddenness of her iron will caught me off guard. Our Susan, a lifelong chain-spitter, was living a salt-free lifestyle. How? Spits Anonymous? The patch? Surely, it wasn’t the rat.
For Christmas, I bought her a salt lick from Granby Mart – 75 cents of Nicorette-like help for the weak moments. It’s mid-February now, and she hasn’t come groveling yet, but recently I noticed a corner of the salt lick has been compromised.
Good for her, though. I’m glad she’s still dry.
Only 72 hours into my resolution – the first week of January – I was fading. That night, I looked myself in the mirror and lied.
“You are not a sunflower seed junkie. Buck up,” I said, willing myself more discipline than Pavlov’s dogs. The habit really was disgusting, I decided, like glorified drooling.
It was a rough night. I tossed and turned and dreamed about Saint Bernards.
Hour 96 of my resolution, I Googled for help and found it. Did you know that nutritionists claim that sunflower seeds pack the largest Vitamin E punch of any whole food? I found the Web site. Who was I to fight nutritionists?
I went shopping over my lunch break, delighted that a new shipment of Kids just made it over Berthoud Pass.
My dry spell lasted less than 100 hours. The juices are now flowing once again, and, thanks to science, I pack and spit without guilt.
Truth? If 2008 were the Year of the Moose, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Ever seen a moose herd? Not likely, unless you happen upon a salt lick or step foot in the Grand Lake Art Gallery and catch a glimpse of Mark Abusamra’s moose masterpiece. Little known fact: Moose are salt addicts.
Fortunately, for sunflower farmers, salt is added to seeds post-harvest. If nature salted those puppies in the shell, Bullwinkle and his minions (self included) would likely put the rut on hold and pillage the Dakota sunflower Mecca every fall.
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