America is ignorant about its food

This animal — a cow — knows more about where your food comes from than many Americans. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli | Associated Press | File.

There are times when we wish the news given to us was fake, but, sadly, today’s blockbuster from the Washington Post is not.

I speak – duh – of today’s revelation that more than 16 million Americans believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows (presumably jerseys and brown swiss, not that Americans would know what either of those are).

The Post’s Wonkblog has crunched the numbers according to the online survey by the National Dairy Council, while not pointing out that online surveys are notoriously not scientific.

But it’s a believable statistic based on other surveys — scientific ones — asking Americans questions about their food.

One Department of Agriculture study, commissioned in the early ‘90s, found that nearly one in five adults did not know that hamburgers are made from beef. Many more lacked familiarity with basic farming facts, like how big U.S. farms typically are and what food animals eat.

“At the end of the day, it’s an exposure issue,” said Cecily Upton, co-founder of the nonprofit FoodCorps, which brings agricultural and nutrition education into elementary schools. “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.”

A survey of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders didn’t know that pickles — spoiler alert!! — are cucumbers.

The National Institute of Agriculture says the average American is three generations removed from agriculture.

Related: The last milking (Faith.Family.Farming)