Suggesting that a surprising number of Americans are still operating on a “brown eggs come from the chicken’s butthole” understanding of basic agricultural science, a new online survey has found that 7 percent of people in the country think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That’s per The Washington Post, which notes that, assuming the survey is properly representative, that number works out to roughly 16 million people.
And while it’s easy (and, frankly, kind of fun) to lob some gentle mockery at people laboring under this Willy Wonka-esque delusion, it also points to a growing disconnect between Americans and their food. The Post quotes a number of studies that show, for instance, that almost half of fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders polled in urban California schools didn’t know hamburgers come from cows, cheese comes from milk, or pickles come from cucumbers. Given the fact that, for most Americans today, food is simply something that arrives pre-packaged in supermarkets or restaurants, those numbers aren’t as surprising as they could be.
And honestly, why not take it even further? In fact, this whole “chocolate milk” thing seems less like a failure of agricultural education, and more a failure of mad science. Why not engineer some cows that make richy, creamy chocolate milk, fresh from the udder? They don’t even have to be brown. It’s not like anybody consuming the end product will ever actually see the dang things.