Most Australian school children think cotton socks come from animals while one-quarter believe that yogurt is from plants. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) survey of almost 1,000 students in grades six and 10 found widespread misconceptions about food processing and farming.
An overwhelming majority knew where potato chips and coffee came from but almost 20 percent of the younger age group -- aged between 10 and 12 years -- thought pasta came from animals and scrambled eggs from plants.
Some 75 percent said cotton socks were an animal product and 27 percent believed yoghurt was derived from plants.
"Primary industry plays a vital role in Australian's economy and society, but the gap between rural and urban communities is growing, contributing to a lack of understanding of where food and other basic necessities of life come from," the study said.
The agricultural lobby group which commissioned the survey, the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF), said the findings were of concern as Australia prepared to confront food security and climate change challenges.
"The people who will need to solve the problems related to food security are either currently in school or are yet to be born," said foundation chief Cameron Archer.
Agriculture is a major part of Australia's economy, with two-thirds of all produce shipped overseas. Exports were worth Aus$34.2 billion ($36.6 billion) in 2010-11 and are expected to come in at $34.5 billion in 2011-2012.