Monday, June 19, 2017

Rant: Agricultural Illiteracy & Chocolate Milk Ignorance

How now, brown cow! And thanks for your chocolate milk. 

Do you know the source of chocolate milk? Does it come from brown cows? Some people seem to think so. In April, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy conducted a survey of 1000 adult Americans, asking them a series of questions concerning milk. According the results of this study, 7% of adult Americans, about 16.4 million, believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows!  And to make matters even worse, 48% of the survey respondents weren't sure where chocolate milk comes from.

This should be such a simple issue but it seems to boggle many Americans. It is agricultural illiteracy, food ignorance, indicating a significant disconnect between the sources of the food we eat and what we find on our plate. Other studies, dealing with different types of food, have also indicated such ignorance, such as numerous Americans not realizing that hamburger comes from beef. For too many Americans, all they seem to care about is eating and drinking, without any type of interest in where those foods and drinks originate. As such, they often don't care whether the ingredients are local or not, whether they come from large, factory farms or small, family-owned operations.

This ignorance of food origins can have a substantial impact in a myriad of ways. First, it ignores issues of sustainability because if you don't know or don't care about the origins of your food, then you aren't paying attention to sustainability issues. For example, if you just buy and eat shrimp, without any question as to its origin, you could be eating shrimp that is raised unsustainably. If you don't know that your pork is coming from some huge, factory farm, you may not realize how much pollution is generated by that farm.

Second, you probably don't understand the nature of food pricing, especially at restaurants. For example, if you think all hamburger is the same, that the origin doesn't matter, then you can't understand why some places charge $5 for a hamburger and other spots charge $15 or more. You'll complain that the later spot is way over priced, despite the fact they may be using a higher quality hamburger, from a local farm, and also using higher quality toppings.  

Third, you probably don't really know what you are ingesting. If you think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, then you're likely to consider chocolate milk to be a natural product, when it actually has been flavored with various ingredients, which will vary from chocolate milk to chocolate milk. What you ingest is very important to your health, and you should properly understand the origins and nature of your food.

I could go on and on about the other reasons you should better understand the sources and origins of your food and drink. You need to spend a little time educating yourself about food. The advantages and benefits to doing so are myriad. With more information, you'll eat and drink better. And who doesn't want to do that? You can wallow in your ignorance if you so desire, but the quality of your life would improve with some knowledge.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Well put! I can't imagine thinking chocolate milk is from brown cows! I guess I have gotten too used to the rarified world I live in of people who know soemthing about food and wine :)