In the last post, I mentioned eating half-way through a bag of Deerfield Farms brand of sunflower seeds and not yet finding a worm.
There's a story I want to share with you.
About 18 years ago, my aunt and her family visited us from Japan. They're from Kyoto, and this was their first visit to the USA. She brought her two kids as well. Her son, Yasuhiro, was 16 years old at the time. I was 22. He had never seen sunflower seeds before.
We were in the backyard patio sitting around the table. I had my bag of David sunflower seeds. Back in those days, the David brand was notorious for having lots of worms. It seemed like every other mouthful of seeds you'd find one with a worm in it. You could tell because when you cracked it open, and used your tongue to pull the kernel out, what you felt were tiny granules of worm turds, and a bitter-tasting (but fully cooked) worm.
Sometimes the kernel was only partially eaten. Other times it was completely eaten. The partially eaten ones you could still eat, worm and all, and not be too bothered by the bitter-taste. But then there were others that tasted down-right nasty, and I couldn't help spitting it out.
So, I proceeded to teach Yasuhiro how to eat sunflower seeds. First I demonstrated my skills by popping a handful into my mouth and one-by-one spit out the shells and chewed the kernels. He was impressed.
At first he grabbed one seed, held it in his finger, and used his front teeth to crack it open. Then he would pull the kernel out with his finger, look at it, and put it into his mouth. He liked it.
About an hour into popping seeds with me, and talking about this and that, he got to the point where he could put a whole seed into his mouth, crack it open, pull out the kernel, and spit the shells out.
Then he found a worm.
Oh the look of horror on his face!
If you can imagine a Japanese teen-ager and the kind of expression they make when they find something disgusting, with his eyes tightly shut, and a nauseated expression with his mouth. He spit everything out and reached for a drink.
I finally told him, "Oh yeah, you'll find a worm every now and then". It's ok, they're fully cooked."
He stopped eating sunflower seeds from that point on. I told him that if it was an issue, just look for a tiny hole in the shell, and avoid that seed. But his mind was already made up.
But these days, with the advancements in pesticides and high-tech food processing machines, it's rare to find worms anymore.