We live in the information age and yet people seem surprisingly uninformed. Apparently a whopping 7% of Americans truly believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. While this seems completely absurd to many of us up to 48% of people surveyed were not entirely sure that chocolate milk had anything to do with cows at all. We are becoming increasingly disconnected with where our food comes from, especially when it comes to animals.

Brown Cow
How now brown cow?

Public Domain Image

It used to be that we raised most, if not all, of our own food. If you wanted eggs you raised chickens. Now there are people who think that eggs come from a supermarket or in a McMuffin. When I was a little girl we didn't raise our own chickens but I remember going out to a nearby farm with my mother to buy eggs. My parents took me to visit a dairy farm around the same time. When I was a little older I was reading the Little House books by Laua Ingalls Wilder and the stories about butchering pigs, milking cows, making butter and cheese, and gathering eggs. I knew where my food came from.

Laura Help Ma Make Cheese (Little House in the Big Woods)
Laura Helps Ma Make Cheese (Little House in the Big Woods)

Illustration by Garth Williams, Image via Pinterest

These days people don't get that kind of knowledge as readily from their information stream. Schools don't seem to be teaching this information. Our food system of highly processed food is adding to this disconnect allowing millions of people to not really be aware of what it is they are eating. Even in the 1990s 20% of people did not know that hamburgers came from cows.

A friend of mine is a militant vegan and animal rights activist and I can't help but think that her work is made a bit harder because of all those people who are not aware that butter and cheese comes from cows or that bacon comes from pigs. Just for the record we diverge on this point and she has trouble understanding how I can eat meat when I love animals so much. I do love animals, but I also love my meat. I also have my limits. I hate giblets and I won't touch calves brains or steak tartar. Yuck.

Chicken
Chicken

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This isn't just an American thing. These same issues are also making headlines in the U.K.  There a shocking 11% of people surveyed thought that eggs came from wheat or corn. Less than half of young adults were aware that butter comes from cows.

I would daresay that there is probably a large number of people who have eaten goat cheese without realizing it came from goats, had Alfredo sauce without knowing it may have been made with sheep's milk, or enjoyed a bit of paté without knowing it was made with goose liver. My stepfather once fed my mother Rocky Mountain Oysters before telling her that they were bull testicles. She took it like a trooper.

Pig, a.k.a., pork, ham, bacon, hog jowls . . .
Pig, a.k.a., pork, ham, bacon, hog jowls . . .

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Animals were not the only ones to fall under this category with people. A number of people couldn't equate French fries with potatoes or pickles with cucumbers. By and large the main confusion seems to do with animals and most people couldn't tell a capon from a caper. Should I tell everyone that sausage casings (what you stuff the sausage in) used to be made of pig intestines? No, I suppose not. I am also guessing that these people may think that a nugget is actually a specific part of the chicken.

Isabel's Grandson with One of her Chickens
Isabel's Grandson with One of her Chickens

Photo by Rebecca Caridad/Manzanita, used by permission

I am just glad that I know people whose children are definitely learning this. My friend Isabel is raising chickens here in our mobile home park and so her children and grandchildren are still learning first-hand where eggs come from  They also know that honey comes from bees and that real rabbit "jelly beans" are not for eating.

The problem with people not knowing these things about animals is that it can lead to poor judgement on making rules and legislation about animals.

Sources: IFL Science, RT, Chicago Tribune, Telegraph

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