One may assume from seeing Van Gogh’s famous paintings of sunflowers that this happy flower is a native of the fields of Europe. This is not quite the case. Of the plants native to North America, the sunflower is probably one of the cheeriest. It was cultivated by Native Americans but found itself abandoned once our ancestors took over the landscape. Thanks to a few Europeans that took seeds back to Europe, it flourished in a new home, spreading across Europe to Ukraine and Russia. As we know from looking at food packaging today, cooking oil can be produced from the seeds of the sunflower. When the sunflower made its way to the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine and Russia, it found itself cultivated on a massive scale, as it was one of the few foods not banned during Lent, foods such as butter. More productive varieties were produced during the Soviet Era. Once it was discovered to be a more healthy oil compared to corn and soy oils, it became popular in America. Thus the sunflower found it had come full circle in its travels.