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No, Chocolate Milk Doesn't Come From Brown Cows

Photograph by Twenty20

A recent survey conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy found that 7 percent of adults in the U.S. think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Uh, how now, brown cow?

The survey, which is not yet released in full, also found 48 percent of the 1,000 Americans surveyed in May have no idea where chocolate milk comes from, period. It's kind of a-moo-sing, considering 90 percent of people consuming dairy at least once a week. But it's also pretty unfortunate that many people, especially in a spaces where highly processed and ready-made foods dominate, don't fully understand what they're eating.

The milk myth might have come from various pop culture mediums. For example, popular games like "FarmVille" have brown cows that produce chocolate cows and some old Hershey's chocolate milk commercials feature brown cows in brown farms.

But before we move on, let's be clear: Milk, even chocolate or strawberry milk, comes from all kinds of cows. What the milk looks like has nothing to do with what the cow looks like. The varying colors usually come from added coloring or sweeteners. A chocolate color, for instance, typically comes from cacao beans and sugar added to milk.

"To be fair, some milk questions and myths may make us smile. But we realize we need accurate information to make the best choices for ourselves and our families about what we eat. It’s time to set the record straight about some common misconceptions about chocolate milk," the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy site reads.

Not surprisingly, this chocolate milk myth isn't the only misinformation out there.

According to an article published in 2011, a team of researchers at University of California, Davis found more than half of fifth- and sixth-graders without traditional agricultural backgrounds couldn't name where all the components of a cheeseburger came from. They didn't know pickles are cucumbers, buns are made from flour or wheat plants, or onions and lettuce are plants. Forty percent didn't know the meat patties came from cows, and thirty percent didn't know cheese is made from milk.

Educating kids about what's really in a package of bacon or frozen patties is so important. One might say, the steaks have never been higher.

“At the end of the day, it’s an exposure issue,” Cecily Upton, co-founder of the nonprofit education program FoodCorps, told the Washington Post. “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.”

Let's just say, there are some big curdles to jump through. But at least for now, we can set one myth straight.

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