June 18, 2017

Where some Americans think their food comes from

Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette Mail - A survey commissioned by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy generated a fair amount of ink and air time late last week, partially because it involved a rare poll that had nothing to do with politics, but mainly because it showed how appallingly far removed from the farm some Americans have become.

Highlighting the new low point in agricultural literacy was the fact that seven percent of American adults believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to the survey. That works out to more than 16 million of our full-grown fellow Americans believing that a sweetened, chocolate-flavored beverage can be coaxed from the udders of cows with brown hides once they are attached to milking machines.

Using that derailed train of thought, milk produced by Holsteins, the black-and-white cows that account for the nation’s largest share of milking parlor space, should come out tasting like Oreos. (Spoiler alert to any seven-percenters in the audience: It doesn’t.)

Several media outlets writing about last week’s survey observed that a U.S. Department of Agriculture study commissioned in the 1990s showed that about 20 percent of American adults did not know that hamburger came from cattle. A survey of students in grades 4-6 in Long Beach, California, public schools on their knowledge of cheeseburger components showed that 40 percent of them did not know hamburger came from cattle, 30 percent were not aware that cheese was made from milk, 28 percent knew that hamburger buns are derived from the wheat plant, and only 22 percent knew that pickles come from cucumbers.

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