Yoghurt grows on trees?

Flour child by Morgan Weistling

Three-quarters of Australian children in their final year of primary school believe cotton socks came from animals and 27 per cent are convinced yoghurt grows on trees.  A national survey of year 6 and 10 students by the Australian Council for Educational Research found yawning gaps in young people's knowledge of basic food origins.

Whilst this shows a major problem with our education system, I do wonder what parents are doing. Don’t parents talk with their children about these things.  I know that I discussed food and where it came from with my children whilst out shopping or when we were preparing meals—I still do today even though they are grown up. In fact we talked about yoghurt not that long ago and wondered how it was discovered (along with yeast).  And only yesterday we talked about cider apples (cider apples taste horrible but make great cider - who discovered this)!!  And when I made the homemade vanilla extract earlier in the year, both my adult sons were at home at the time and were very interested in the process of how it was made and have been checking on the extract to see how it is changing.  I have always encouraged my sons to be curious and to ask questions—aren’t modern children curious enough to ask their parents questions?

I know many parents say they are “too busy”.  This is the line I keep hearing and it frustrates me a great deal.  I am busy, I also work full time however I was never been that busy to not have time to have these conversations whilst preparing dinner or when visiting the farmers market.  I am beginning to wonder if the modern parent is wasting their time or using it unwisely.  Do they sit and watch TV or out with friends or watching sport to interact with their children.   Or are they so busy taking their children to organized activities that they don’t have any time left for talking with their children.  It is a big worry if this is the case.

Or, to be a little more scary - perhaps modern parents don't in fact know the answers to these questions?  Or, do they only buy processed foods that are so removed from the original that no one in house as a clue what they are made of?  All in all, parents need to lift their game and get more involve in their children's lives. 


  1. I always understood that cotton came from rabbits - this is why they are called cotton tails. Is this not true... :-)

  2. Jo: I have always found the car is a great place for conversation. As to the other, we grew a lot of our own, raised chooks & friends had a milk cow so they got the basics. For many years we made our own yoghurt. However when my boys moved out they commented that none of their mainland friends' families cooked anything from scratch!!! Nothing at all. I found this almost impossible to believe but it seems many people are taking the easy way out.

    Another thought; those questionaires are misleading. The questions are often phrased in such a way that children doubt what they actually know & put down the answer they think is expected from them. I've seen adults struggle with these because the language isstructured in unfamiliar ways & can easily be misconstrued.

    Have a happy day.

  3. Ganeida - My sons have found the same thing when it comes to cooking in other people’s homes, many don't have a pantry full of food (it’s usually almost empty) and tend to eat things that come in tins or such food as "hot dogs" etc.. non that are healthy but are certainly quick.

    Like you, I have had many wonderful conversations in the cat.

    I do agree that the questionnaire probably didn't help and that the results are perhaps not representative of the whole population. nevertheless, I do think our young children are losing this knowledge.

  4. I think I heard this on TV and couldn't believe it! :(
    certainly makes one wonder.....

  5. Unbelievable, Jo. But I think you're right - we live in such a processed world, a world where the origins of things is not only unknown - but many wouldn't even consider bothering to think about wondering or finding out about it! Their lives are so busy and focused on socialising and entertainment that they really do not have the time to even *think* about these things to begin with. I feel very blessed to have the time to answer my children's questions, and to guide their minds deeper than the surface. To wonder why, or how. And I feel amazed that they not only love to talk about these things, but love to take time out of their day to read books about these things. The other day Danny was telling me how lightbulbs work. I love that! :)
    So many basics are being lost in this modern world - not only the knowing where and how things come to be, but also being able to make foods etc from scratch. Who would ever think to MAKE their own yoghurt or vanilla essence? Your average family wouldn't!

    1. Caius only said to me the other day that I was the only mother he knew that cooked from scratch and had a overflowing pantry. So what do other mothers do I wonder?

      My children (now adult) still like to see what new thing I am doing - and often Tristan will go home and copy me, as he has done with bread making. I bought some chocolate moulds the other day from Aldi so we could make our own chocolate - something fun and exciting!!

  6. Yes, I've used this comment before. One of my daughters was talking to some work mates and a friend of hers was with her. Whatever foodie thing they were discussing my daughter said that she knew she would walk in and mum would be in the kitchen making tea with her apron on. The work mates were so incredulous that her friend had to verify that yes, her mother did cook and wore an apron! Ha!
    But honestly, that is sad. I actually hope there is a problem with the poll and that children would know the basic facts, even if it is from a TV show and not mum and dad.


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