We like to think that our country is comprised of smart, educated individuals capable of representing our nation on a global front, however, a new study commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy may be painting a very different picture! It revealed that 16.4 million Americans genuinely believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

This may sound ridiculous, and I would like to claim that I’m joking, but it’s the cold, hard truth! In April of this year more than 1000 adult Americans were asked a serious of question relating to milk, and the results were hard to believe.

The study revealed that 48% of the study’s participants admitted that they are unsure of where chocolate milk comes from. Hard to believe, isn’t it… One would have thought they could at least draw the conclusion that the delicious beverage came from cows like every other milk variety out there. However, it gets better. A total of 7% of those surveyed confirmed that their belief that chocolate milk only comes from brown cows.

To clarify, the study was conducted using only adults, not young children. Let that sink in for a moment – 16.4 million adult Americans, which is equivalent to the population of Pennsylvania with some to spare, genuinely believe that if you milk a brown cow you will get chocolate milk…

The survey was designed to focus in on the nation’s beliefs in relation to the dairy industry, discussing the way various milk-based products that are commonly found in the American diet, while also addressing a number of myths about the beverage. Researchers discovered that 37% of adult Americans drink straight out of the container, while 29% purchase chocolate milk for their own consumption regularly while claiming that they are purchasing it for their child.

Experts explain that the problem stems from a lack of education, starting in our school system. “At the end of the day, it’s an exposure issue,” explained the co-founder of the non-profit FoodCorps, Cecily Upton. “Right now, we’re conditioned to think that if you need food, you go to the store. Nothing in our educational framework teaches kids where food comes from before that point.”  

This very situation was the topic of writer and historian Ann Vileisis’ book ‘Kitchen Literacy,’ uncovering the lack of education and knowledge that most Americans currently have in respect to the production, transportation, and manufacturing of the foods that we purchase on a daily basis. This divide, she explains, is further widened by the fact that we process foods to the extent that, in most cases, they no longer even look like the original plant or animal that they come from.

“Indifference about the origins and production of foods became a norm of urban culture, laying the groundwork for a modern food sensibility that would spread all across American in the decades that followed,” Vileisis wrote of the United States over the last 20 years. “Within a relatively brief period, the average distance from farm to kitchen had grown from a short walk down the garden path to a convoluted, 1,500-mile energy-guzzling journey by rail and truck.”

Vilesis is part of a movement of Americans trying to close the gap between public knowledge and agriculture, advocating for there to be an agricultural component included in our education system. This would provide children with the first-hand knowledge of where their food originated from, even if they lived in the middle of the city.

For the record, in case you’re among the 7% – Chocolate milk is simply a mix of regular white milk, cocoa, and sugar. You’re welcome!

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