More Than 16 Million Adults Think Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows

by Christina Marfice
Image via shaunl / iStock

Food illiteracy statistics are hilarious, but also kind of sad.

Quick — where does chocolate milk come from? If you said, “Brown cows,” well… you’re wrong.

But you’re in good company, at least; more than 16 million American adults — yes; real, grown-up adults — believe that their chocolate milk comes straight out of the cow flavored and sweetened — but only out of the brown cows. That’s what a new survey conducted by the National Dairy Council found: that seven percent of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Our next question: What do they think comes out of black and white cows?

Also, while only seven percent of respondents said chocolate milk comes from brown cows, 48 percent just said they don’t know where it comes from. They had no idea. And only five percent of the survey participants said they don’t drink milk, so there’s a whole lot of people drinking it on the reg who apparently just don’t know where it comes from.

But wait — there’s more. A Department of Agriculture study showed that almost 20 percent of adults don’t know that hamburgers are made of beef. Another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural Education, showed that more than half of a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders at an urban California school didn’t know that pickles are cucumbers or that onions and lettuce are plants. Forty percent of them didn’t know burgers come from cows. And 30 percent didn’t know cheese is made from milk.

As a midwestern girl who comes from generations of Nebraskan farmers, these statistics shake me to my core. How do so many people not know the basics of where their food comes from?

According to the Washington Post, it’s because since the industrialization of food production, we don’t need to know. We just go to the store and get the food we need. Then again, maybe our food habits have something to do with this; the number one “fruit” consumed in the U.S. is orange juice, while the top vegetable is potatoes in chip and French fry form.

Welp, definitely having a salad for lunch today. With vegetables. That come from farms. Where they’re grown in the ground.