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Survey reveals serious gaps in school children's basic food knowledge

One-third of the children did not know pork came from pigs.

Remember a couple years ago when the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy surveyed 1,000 American adults to see if they knew where chocolate milk came from and 7% responded that they thought chocolate milk came from brown cows? I remember shaking my head and thinking where did they find these people? Another part of me thought these poor folks missed out on some important life lessons during their childhood and it made me feel sad.

That same feeling surfaced over the weekend when I heard about a recent survey conducted in Great Britain. The study, commissioned by Zanussi in celebration of their partnership with the charity Cook School, questioned 1,000 children aged 6 to 11, and it revealed some alarming gaps in basic food knowledge.

For example, one-third of the children did not know pork came from pigs. One in 10 thought cows laid eggs and three out of 10 didn't know tuna came from fish. While 86% of those quizzed had visited a farm, two in five do not know that chips (French fries) come from potatoes.

While we could be quick to dismiss the survey and say well that's a UK problem, remember it was American adults who were misled on the chocolate milk a couple years ago. It's also important to remember only 2% of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture and some of those commonsense conversations we may think are happening at dinner tables across America are clearly not.

This holiday season, as we gather with friends and family members (who might be far removed from the farm and getting their information from random documentaries on Netflix), it might be a good time to help reconnect some of those dots. It may seem silly to remind folks where their glazed ham, sausage stuffing and holiday bacon wrapped crackers came from, but I highly doubt many consumers today know there are an estimated 185 products that hail from some part of the pig.

After meat, pharmaceuticals rank second in the important contributions hogs have made to society. Nearly 20 drugs and pharmaceuticals can say they come from the pig. Insulin, used in the treatment of diabetes, comes from hogs. Severe burn victims are often treated with the skin from hogs. Hog heart valves are saving lives as they are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart valves.

Porcine is also part of our daily routine and can be found in shampoo, conditioner, soap, cosmetics and toothpaste.

These are just a few examples, but we really do use everything but the oink and it's something we should acknowledge and be thankful for this holiday season. You never know those friends and family members who are listening now may be asked to take a survey in school or on the street one day.

Let's hope they don't answer that strawberry milk comes from pink pigs.

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