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American adults lack a very basic understanding of how cows work, according to study

But what about strawberry and banana flavoured milk?

A nationally representative survey commissioned by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has found that seven percent of American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

The Washington Post did the math and found that it works out to about 16.4 million people. That’s a lot of people. To put it in perspective, that’s slightly more than the populations of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide combined.

Which leads us all to wonder – Is this for real, or were people just screwing with an admittedly dumb survey question?

Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy told The Huffington Post that the survey was conducted by marketing researching group Edelman Intelligence and polled 1,000 people from 50 states. Although the state-by-state breakdown was pretty even, she added that there were slightly more responses from the southern states.

But as they say, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

It’s easy to imagine some people looked at it and thought “OK, you wanna play? Let’s do this,” before proudly ticking the Brown Cow box. Why? Because some folks just want to watch the world burn.

But still…seven percent seems high for pranksters. I would have estimated that number to be around 1-2 percent.

The Washington Post dug deeper, citing stats from the early ’90s which found that nearly 20 percent of American adults didn’t know that hamburgers are made from beef. So if a precedent of American ignorance about food sources exists, this chocolate milk news shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

As urbanisation is on the rise, people are becoming increasingly divorced from agriculture and food production. It’s understandable that people know less about food these days. We live in cities. Food comes to us.

In many cases, ignorance is bliss. If people truly knew what dairy cows, chickens or pigs went through, diets would quickly change. Skeptical? Try watching the documentary Earthlings and then taking a trip to your local supermarket. You won’t feel the same.

In the meantime, most of us will keep taking the Homer approach. We’ve long left the Savanah and food just appears at the local store. It’s a kind of magic, isn’t it?

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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