Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?
June 23rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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What do farmers have to say about agriculture issues? Hear it straight from them in Farmers With Issues.

4-H stands for "Head, heart, hands, health" and apparently a fifth - for "haters."

To many, 4-H Clubs are all about nurturing sweet little calves, adorable children winning ribbons, urban garden patches and proud future farmers grooming prized pigs for show. To others, it's a calculated system for turning the youth of America into cold, unfeeling animal killers.

When Eatocracy ran a 5@5 feature with chef Kelly Liken on the topic of Five Reasons to Buy from Your Local 4-H earlier this week, we quickly identified within the comments two distinct perceptions of the organization - which was originally set up by the United States Department of Agriculture to train the rural youth of America in hands-on skills like agriculture and raising animals. One was that 4-H promotes responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way and the other was that it serves to desensitize children to the suffering of animals.

Here's what commenters to that article had to say:

In cold blood

I don't and would never support the 4-H. This group helps desensitize youngsters into having no emotional attachment to animals raised for food. For those who say no one should have attachment to animals raised for food, I say "of course". This is how the meat industry stays in business. If children are raised to love all animals and not try to see them as products, they would not be interested in seeing them killed. "Listening to the auctioneer and seeing how excited the children get when their animal is purchased is an incredibly fulfilling experience."

Really? Incredibly fulfilling experience. You mean knowing the animal that trusted you from birth is off to be mistreated before being slaughtered! That's fulfilling? Maybe that's because the 4-H has successfully desensitized these children who may have once be appalled by this. It's simply horrific. Shame on you 4-H for what you do to animals and to children. - Heather King

Education, not desensitization

What 4-H does do is promote responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way. I accept your position that any killing of animals for food is, in your position, not ethical or moral, however most of us are omnivores and I for one would rather that those producing the meat I choose to eat do so in a humane and ethical way. I respect your position, but I would also hope that you would rather see people brought up to understand, and therefore demand, that there an ethical way to treat an animal even if that animal's eventual purpose is the nourishment of a human being.

Desensitization is the wrong word–education is the right word. These kids (I was one) are not at all desensitized to the process–rather, they are educated about proper raising and care of these animals. Not only was I a member, but growing up we also purchased meat and produce from 4H and FFA members–talk about locally sourced! We could be confident in the quality, origin, and raising of these products in a way we can rarely be in a supermarket. - Value rather than desensitization

A lasting impact

Have you ever been at a 4-H auction? Most of the younger kids end up crying after their animal gets bought and not donated back. As they grow older, they wrap their head around the idea, but when they're first starting out they have a hard time accepting it. It doesn't mean they're "desensitized" to it, it's the fact they they've matured and understand that animal's purpose more as time goes on. - Brianna

The circle of life

Someone asked earlier in the thread how many 4-H kids had actually seen an animal slaughtered. In my club back home (rural Sierra Nevadas), the answer was ALL OF US. We toured the packing houses where our animals would later be slaughtered (note packing HOUSES, as these buildings housed perhaps thirty head at an outside estimate, nowhere near large enough to call a "processing plant"), examined carcasses, viewed the taking of animals lives and the bloodletting afterwards, and were given briefings on the saws and tools used. This while spending hours a day bathing, training, feeding and cleaning up after our own still very alive animals. - 4-H fo'sho'

The value of life

It is really so unevolved. Why are people proud that the kids are crying as they lead their animals onto the trailer to be killed for food? You are teaching them that relationships are disposable. That animals are disposable. NOT A GOOD LESSON, and these poor animals raised as pets are off to the slaughterhouse where they will be tortured before they die. - Kathy

It keeps them off the streets

Small scale food-animal raisers aren't cold blooded killers, they're making money doing what they enjoy doing. If anyone is desensitized to animal life, go to Youngstown [ed: where the commenter grew up] and talk to all the thugs on the street that grew up around murders happening weekly. THEN you'll find someone who doesn't value human or animal life.

If I have kids, you bet they'll be in 4-H. I'd rather see them doing that than doing what most of the people I grew up with did. Kids deserve more of a chance than what drugs, crime and partying can offer them. - Brianna

It should be noted that animal husbandry and sales are only a portion of what 4-H Clubs do. Other former members spoke of "arts and crafts like pottery, painting; outdoor activities like camping, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and...skills like woodworking and leather-working" as well as horse showing and "cooking, photography, jewelry making" and others. Still, with the issue of animal raising and slaughter on the table, we'd like to know what you think in the comments below.

Previously - A day two pigs would die: ethical slaughter

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Buzz • Farmers with Issues • Food Politics • From the Comments • Local Food • Vegan

soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. Current 4-H Leader

    4-H is a community of young people learning citizenship, leadership and life skills. They are good kids from across the nation learning to work together. The aren't "desensitized" to anything. By the number of post – it's obvious CNN hit a nerve, and that's the true goal.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  2. meganparr

    The fact of the matter is that you are targeting an organization that promotes responsibility and community in youth. Another fact of the matter is that these animals that are being harvested (not slaughtered) are not only being used for food. They contribute many different substances that are used to produce products you and I use everyday. Everything from paint brushes to toothpaste to marshmellows to baseballs to steel to rubber to surgical sutures is made up, in part, from various substances from livestock. I feel that before you make the agricultural industry out to be nothing more than a bunch of heartless human beings, you should take a step back and gather all of the facts. I do believe that with ALL the information, you might think twice before you lash out against one of the largest youth organizations in the United States.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Wayne

      Thank You!!!

      June 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Shannon Mac

      Right on Megan Parr!!!! Love ya sister!!!!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  3. Kayla

    Some people have no idea what 4-Hers go through with raising animals for slaughter. I personally am in 4-h and have been showing and raising pigs for 6 years. I can say that it doesn't get any easier to see your animal sold for meat, but it's a fact of life. And I know some kids only care about money, but I know most love there animals and cry so much when they are sold. So don't sit there and put down the 4-H and FFA industry just because you think we are "torturing" our animals, when in fact you have no idea how much we actually love and care for our animals, and I for one am not desensitized to it, and NEVER will be!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  4. Becca

    I honestly thought this was a joke when I first read the title. But no, people really are serious. We look at the world today around us wrought with violence, drugs, sexual slavery, abuse, and hatred, and there are really people out there who think 4-H is desensitizing our kids? It really is laughable. Maybe it wasn't meant to be a joke, but I sure think it is one! I grew up in 4-H in a more metropolitan area, so our focus was never really on the agricultural side of 4-H simply because we didn't live in that environment and have the capability to raise animals. However, we learned about the natural world and being a positive influence in the lives of those around us. The idea that 4-H is anything but a positive educational experience is silly, and anyone who has actually been around 4-H of any kind wouldn't assert such nonsense.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  5. Livestock Lover

    As a proud 11 year 4-H member and a current emember of the Agriculture community I feel I must state my opinion. I am pretty sure I cried all 11 years when cleaning out my pens and taking out the food and water dishes. I cried when my father took our flock of ewes to auction 2 years after I was done showing. HOwever I fully understand the reason we raise livestock. My 4-H animals were not "pets" yest I loved them as such. Trust me I am not desensitized to death or killing by any means. Living outside of a major city is disgusts me whenever I see another murdr on the news. I credit this with heloing me to cope. I have had a few people very close to me pass in the small time period, but it was remembering what I sill had that helped, which is what I learned to do while showing. I also credit it with my public speaking abilities, responsibliity, work ethic, leadership skills, thinking critically, learning how to cook and bake, and bringing my family closer together. Even though my parents were seperated they were both there for everything from selection, to helping work with animals, feed them, show and sale. I must agree with Sharon, we all make our own choices, I too am respectful to those who choose not to eat meat, but it is my choice to eat meat, and the meat that my family has produced. 4-H builds leaders and better contributers to society.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  6. Bob Fanning

    "The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human." Aldous Huxley

    June 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  7. 4-H Mafia

    YA I am desensitized!! that is why you see all of us 4-H'ers doing drive bys in the big cities. Well all have to get out killing fix. Doesnt the media have better things to write about? People... if you eat anything you are killing something. Meat=live animals.. Salad/Vegetables= live plants... So when you walk out to your garden and pick that nice fresh plant remember you are killing something. Oh wait I learned that in 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  8. Allen

    The bible clearly tells us to rise kill and eat. It also tells us we can eat of the animals on earth. I am an avid hunter and I will kill and eat my game till I die. I have never been a 4-H member but from what I understand from the group they raise much better kids than what the streets do. However, if we all followed what scripture tells us, we would never have this concersation in the first place.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  9. RichardHead

    I just wanted to state that I am a member of 3S–Shit,Shower and shave. That is all.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  10. TheDefender777

    So ... "carnivore" ... do you kill your prey with your claws and rip through their skin with your fangs and eat the corpse raw??? ... NO??? ... then guess what ... YOU ARE NOT A CARNIVORE!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes ... vegans are wussyish.

    Only wussyish little pansies will stand up for what they believe in in the face of social norm and make it a central part of their lifestyles instead of just following what everyone else is following ... RIGHT???

    Albert Beckles - Bodybuilder
    Alexander Dargatz - Bodybuilder, 2005 Body-Building World Champion, and a physician
    Anthony Peeler - Basketball Player
    Anton Innauer - Olympic Gold Medal In Ski Jumping
    B J Armstrong - Basketball Player Star
    Bill Pear - Bodybuilder
    Bill Walton - Baskeball Player and Sportscaster
    Brendan Brazier - Professional Ironman Triathlete
    Carl Lewis - American Track and Field Athlete, 10 Olympic medals including 9 golds, and 10 World Championships medals, of which 8 were golds
    Chris Campbell - American world champion wrestler
    Chris Prince - Vegan Muay Tai and Mixed Martial Arts Fighter
    Cory Everson - Bodybuilder, 6 Times Mr. Olympia
    Dave Scott - Triathlete and Coach - Six times Ironman World Champion
    Desmond Howard - American professional football player
    Donny Lalonde - Professional boxer
    Ed Bauer - Bodybuilder
    Edwin Moses - Track and Field athlete, Olympic champion - 4 Golden Medals
    Jack LaLanne - American fitness, exercise and nutritional expert, celebrity, lecturer, and motivational speaker
    Jacque Vaughn - American professional basketball player
    Jim Morris - Mr America 1973 y Mister Olympia 1996
    Joel Kirkilis - Bodybuilder and Lifter, Victoria (Aus) Bodybuilding champion, 2009
    John Salley - Basketball Player
    Mac Danzig - Professional UFC Mixed Martial Arts Fighter and Instructor
    Marv Levy - Professional Football coach
    Peter Hussing - Boxing Champion
    Ricardo Moreira - MMA Fighter
    Rob Bigwood - Profesional Armwrestler ... and many, many more ...

    When was the last time you used your "MANLY" abilities to do ANYTHING remotely close to what these vegan athletes have accomplished????????

    Typical ignorant corpse muncher! MEAT IS FOR PUSSIES!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  11. SoranoGuardias

    Look. You guys can believe whatever you want, CNN and sympathizers.

    The bottom line is that there are two types of farmers. You've got the tractor-driving crop farmer and the cattle rancher.

    You veggie-lovers may love eating only plants. Good for you. Stop trying to force it on us. You may be able to handle it, but there are many, MANY people who's body chemistry requires meat. So lay off.

    And as for becoming cold-blooded killers, that's hardly relevant! There is a difference between a cold-blooded killer and a farmer: the killer kills because he wants to. The farmer kills to put food on people's tables!

    Yeah. It is hard to kill an animal that you have raised. I'm not a farmer, but I know. I've had to but down many pets myself. Don't worry. I put them in a hole afterwars. ;D

    June 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  12. pa hunter

    Fact: predatory mammalian life forms on this planet have two eyes in the front of their head so they can judge distance to pray.

    Fact: predictors eat meat.

    Fact: Humans have two eyes in the front of the head.

    Fact: humans were intended to eat meat.

    Fact: this can also be determined by examining human teeth.

    Fact: we can not provide an adequate amount of vegetation to feed everyone on the planet.

    Raising animals and hunting are what teaches people to respect the food that gets put on the table. How many of you non hunters-farmers have ever eaten hart or brain or any of the other parts that are typically discarded by meat processors? My bet is verrrrry few. hunters and farmers have more respect for our animals wild or not than the vast majority of society. I bet allot less food would be wasted if we all had to do the work to get the food on the table.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Daddy Mc

    It is this kind of sensationalistic, one-sided, supposed 'news' blogging that has me believing that somewhere in CNN's news leadership is a platinum membership card carrying PETA trustee. This and how they handled the Michael Vick saga and all the cuddly critter, 'man's best friend' pieces than ran the two initial weeks when the Vick story broke have me convinced. Some 'people' just don't get the separation. Animals, raised as pets or food or left on their own in the wild, should not be abused or misused. But this movement toward the 'humanizing' of animals at all costs is not a price most of us are willing to pay when we fully review its implications.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  14. Wayne

    Education in public schools should include where our food comes from. It is a sad state of affairs to read some of the idiotic statements about harvesting animals. Killing an animal does not include torture. As a hunter and a person who has killed many animals I always want a clean kill. Food comes from animals.
    I also was raised on farms where butchering animals was observed and no animals were ever tortured, it is food and it was respected.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • pa hunter


      That"s what I am talking about

      June 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  15. mike

    why don't we just compromise and not eat anything.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  16. Lindsay

    Clearly, some people are uneducated about 4-H. This is one aspect of 4-H under an umbrella of so many different fields of opportunity. A lot of these "desensitized" kids as you'd like to call them, probably would have grown up with this in their life regardless of their 4-H membership. This is not an attact to just 4-H, but also the parents of these children. For some, this is a lifestyle and a source of income. People eat meat, it's life. This is simply another industry that people have the option of making a career in. Other organizations do similar competitions as the ones described in the article, why single out this one. However, that is not to shove blame to them either. With what goes on in this world and on the television many Americans have in front of them daily, you are blaming 4-H? Why not blame the over-exposed reality TV stars who promote drinking and partying, and become a staple in American Culture? Or maybe the violent video games that not only cause our youth to think violence is ok, but have them adding to the growing obesity problem in America as they become couch potatoes? At least 4-H has kids up and moving and making something of their time. CNN you've got this ALL wrong.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Julia

    Yum, hamburgers!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Carnivore

      Let's get together and eat meat! Then we can eat each other!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  18. Apul Madeek-Aoud

    4-H? know more about killing from the video ames, movies & mostly the news.

    Is this about cruelty to our food supply? Would it make you feel better if they threw the animal out a ten story buildings window to kill it?

    June 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  19. Redneck

    At Least a 4-h Child Will NOT be posting in a Newspaper......Thinking Meat at the Grocery store Came from a Box and NO animals were harmed in the Process. Shame on You CNN for putting down a Program for Children that gets them away from the T.V. and video games. 4-H is about Family, and Hard work that gets rewarded.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  20. LearnToRead

    For people freaking out about the title of the article and/or the "content" might I suggest re-reading?
    First, the title. You will notice the "?" a the end of the sentence, this means the author is asking a question and not stating a point. It does NOT say the 4-H does desensitize kids to killing nor does it say that the 4-H does NOT desensitize kids to killing, rather it is asking for you to form an opinion.
    Now what are you to use to form an opinion one way or ther other? Let's take a look at the supporting sentences. Notice the line that says "here's what our commenters had to say:" The " : " means that the selections that follow are taken from the comment section of a previous article. If you look at the individual paragraphs you will notice the contributor's name is included showing who it was that supplied that original opinion.
    If you read all of the supporting commenters' comments you will notice that they are falling on both sides of the fence, this way a person can read opinions from multiple angles before answering the original question.
    For those going after CNN for promoting PETA's agenda I suggest reading the original 5@5 article which clearly paints 4-H in a VERY favorable light.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Joxon

      Don't need to reread. This should not have ever been a story regardliss of what the title or content is.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
      • EriktheRed

        Then you shouldn't have spent time reading it the first time or even bothering to comment on it. Take your stupid hipster attitude outta here and get a life. You apparently don't have one if you're willing to read articles you don't care about and read comments on an article you don't care about and reply to comments you supposedly don't care about. kthanks.

        June 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Joxon

      Earkthered! I own a farm. I make my living from raising beef and famring. All this story does is put ideas into peoples head about how bad eating meat is and how bad 4-H is. It is clear that you do not read before posting.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  21. Monica

    @kayakerjess, This is why my family choices to eat our own animals. We eat the heifers born twin to a bull, they are unable to reproduce. I live on a dairy farm and we take the best care possible to make sure they are healthy and live long comfortable lives. Including the best diet, comfortable clean housing and even emergency vet services when something goes wrong. I still hate having to sell cows for meat when they have reached the end of their life. And that is the only case that I will. I love my cows. I agree there are problems here. But know one knows how to go about it. Stop going after the group and focus on the individual. Feeding America and attacked for it.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  22. David

    Does no one realize that we have already been desensitized as a society to animal cruelty and death? Most Americans have never killed their own source of meat, let alone seen the process, yet make it a daily habit to buy and eat meat they are not connected to. They have no idea how the animal has been raised, nourished, treated, killed and processed. That is real desenitization! Our culture lives paralell to Marx's fetishism of commodities. While we all (I hope) realize that the hamburger meat we buy at Buger King or the steaks we by at the grocery store come from animals, most don't even have a clue (and even more don't want to know) what an animal goes through from birth to plate. If anything 4H is making people more aware and appreciative of the fact that life is beautiful, precious and needs to be respected. Factory Farming- the source of close to 90% of America's meat- has no value or respect for the lives of animals. No one is asking you to be vegetarian, but bottom line: if you want to claim to live with integrity you should be willing and able to kill what you eat, otherwise you're just another hipocrite and we have enough of those.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Omnivore

      That doesn't make sense. If that desensitizes us to animals being injured or dying, why do we keep pets and protect them like they were a family member? We have some animals that were domesticated for food, and some for pets. Claiming that it's all correlated is a flawed analysis.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  23. Brian

    Our nation (America) has become infested with pansies and weak willed youth who only see violence on screen. They have become cold hearted to fellow man and over protective of livestock. Go online and the video of a man getting beaten gets humorous comments while that of a dog getting hit gets death threats...Schools should raise livestock and have a BBQ at the end of the year with those animals...Teach them what death trully is, a part of life ...not some voyeur fuellled web broadcast... they would respect the animals sacrifice and gain value from it...todays youth barely have an idea what leather is let alone where gelatin comes from...

    June 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  24. Dan

    The animal shown above is not raised for meat. Whoever started this should be better informed. Animal welfare/rights is a complicated issue. If you want to start a intellectually useful debate, at least get the basics right.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Brianna

      LOL I thought the same thing. Dairy heifers only become McDonald's hamburgers when they don't produce a high yield of milk anymore. It wasn't the intended purpose of the animal, just a byproduct. I guess you can't expect too much from people who actually gave this silly idea some dumbA put into their heads an article all of it's own.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  25. Buttercup

    I don't know if anyone will read this, but being in 4H was one if the best experiences of my life. I ended up showing lambs for six years and went on to become president of my FFA chapter when I was a senior in high school. My family was not agricultural, but being in 4H and FFA taught me about the food we eat and how it gets to the table. Take it from someone who had a terrible home life as a child, that lamb I raised was my best friend that went on to breed more animals. If that makes 4H unethical, then I guess that makes me unethical, and I don't have a problem with that.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  26. Ohio 4-Her

    As a current 4-Her I was taught the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. Animal rights is a philosophy where followers believe animals should not be used for human benefit, and the animal should have the same rights as humas. Animal welfare supporters (including me) agree that animals should be treated with respect. I have raised market projects for 6 years, and sold them at the county auction. The first few my friends and I would cry and were sad that our animals were going to be slaughtered. We learned that these animals were raised to be part of the food cycle, and their were other animals that we kept to be pets and breeding stock

    June 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Texas 4-H'er 'till I die

      This response is one of the best posted. It's eloquent, well-written and worded, it shows the character of the writer. And you know how the writer learned to be all of those things? 4-H. Because kids who are active in 4-H aren't just participating.... It become a part of them. Their parents are active, they eat meals as a family and I can promise you that when they screw up, they get grounded. They have a good "head" on their shoulders, a kind "heart", strong "hands" and live a "healthy" lifestyle. These kids grow up to run this country. And I for one would like that particular tradition to continue. I learned so much more than raising animals. I was a state council member and participated in the 4-H Exchange program. I saw the great USA and paid for college .

      Animal raising is such a small part of what makes 4-H great but it's done well, with respect for the animals and high quality education for the youngsters involved. My kiddos are young but I can't wait to be a 4-H mom. Just as many fathers out there can't wait for their boys to e boy scouts. This article is very down the middle and I applaud CNN (that is not said lightly!) on their reporting. The bulk of the responses are in support of 4-H and those that aren't well, you can read them for yourself.

      4-H, FFA, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, YMCA's.... These are the organizations who create the men and women of this country that are worth knowing. Support them, do not belittle them.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  27. Sharon Spratt

    I credit 4-H with so many positive impacts on my life. Public speaking, critical thinking, Responsibility, dedication, work ethics, and how to be an active member of society just to name a few. However, focusing on the "desensitizing" issue, I would like to respectfully call "bull" on. While showing livestock for many years I learned valuable lessons on where our food comes from, the correct way to raise and slaughter livestock, and how to respect not only those who raise our food- but the animals that would become my food. While 4-H is much more than livestock projects- to blanket those projects are harmful to youth shows the ignorance of those who have only read the negative and ignored the 99% of the positive and humane interactions youth have with their food source. And while I am respectful of those who chose to refrain from meat- I encourage you to also be respectful of those who do, those who raise livestock, and those who process livestock to provide a safe and affordable food source. And respect is the true lesson of 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    @EriktheRed, read Maneka Gandhi's Heads and Tails. Highly Recommended. If you have a receptive mind, you would get answers to a lot of your questions. Ciao!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • EriktheRed

      sorry. I can't resist. Which question are you referring to? If vegetarians know that plants are alive, or if they can be anymore self-righteous?

      I know that plants are as alive as we, or any animal are. I do have a rather receptive mind, or I at least try to have one anyway. However, I'm not sure if vegetarians can get anymore self-righteous, but I'm sure I'll be proven wrong about that. lol.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
      • LOVE_FACTS

        @EriktheRed, uh oh! again a question! READ the book that I mentioned- you'll understand the fallacy of equating animals with plants. It answers all those popular-mythical questions/arguments, and much more. Ciao!

        June 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  29. Summer

    I don't think you should hate on it if you've never been in 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  30. Michael Earle

    Really? I have been involved with 4-H, FFA, and the agriculture industry all of my life. When I was a kid, I didn't sell my animals as they weren't meant to be eaten, all of my friends were in the species that were sold for food. All of those members would take all of their earnings from their sale, and add them to their college fund. Many agricultural colleges that support these programs in their state even give full scholarships to students that stay in the program long enough. Desensitizes children from death? No this shows students the process of how their food is produced, and gives them a strong work ethic that any employer would kill for. Being a student at the Culinary Institute of America I understand the process that all of my products take from field or pasture to my clients' mouths.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  31. EriktheRed

    To all the Vegetarians out there. Shhhhuuuuuuut Uuuuuuuuup! You do know that plants are living things as well right?!? To be honest we need them more than the animals right now, because they take carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen!!! Just because a plant doesn't have eyes, a nose, or a mouth doesn't mean it's not a living creature. All in all you kill stuff for food, and meat eaters kill stuff for food. Can you people be anymore self-righteous?

    June 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Omnivore

      Exactly, I thought they sounded normal before. Now they're starting to sound like those hardcore religious die-hards.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    You have misinfo about India and Hindus, and yet you're overgeneralizing it. I'll do a few corrections, and hope that you start reading a lot more.
    You say, "Most Indians are vegetarians."
    I say- WRONG! Most Indians (52%) are non-vegetarians.
    You say, "in India the cow is a sacred animal, but this is where the hypocrisy starts."
    I say- Yes, for many folks it is, but India is also the largest exporter of beef in Asia. You seem to live in either/or world of extremes- but the reality if more varied. For example, many Hindus or any religious groups living in the coastal areas have always consumed fish, while many in the landlocked areas see it as against their idea of vegetarianism.
    You say, "While most hindus do not eat meat, they consume dairy products and also do not hesitate to wear leather jackets and shoes and carry leather handbags."
    I ask- Why is it a Hindu issue? It is a question that everyone whole believes in animal rights and calls him/her a vegetarian needs to think about, but it defeats the purpose when you make it a religious issue? I know Muslims who are vegetarian? Should I make it a Muslim issue? Meanwhile, start with Maneka Gandhi's book titled Heads and Tails.
    You say, "Don't they realize that once the cow stops producing milk she is set free on the streets, surviving on garbage and plastic bags."
    I say- True (you got one!), and this is why PFA and other groups in India have started creating awareness and raising funds for stray and abandoned animals. It is no different than Indians or any x, y, z, who talk big about child labor and yet employ young kids to work for them! or stay quiet when they see children working in small restaurants. I bet you have seen these things and remained quiet. I wonder why?
    You say, "And where do they think leather comes from ? Do they think leather grows on trees?"
    I say- Of course they know, but what I don't know is why you think it's a Hindu issue? Religion is not a monolithic entity. You'll find Hindus and Muslims who believe in killing animals, and those who don't! Just like within Indian context even Sikhs and Christians have upper and lower castes among them- something that was unheard of! It tells you religions adapts to the local good, bad, and ugly traditions. For you to paint everything with the broad brush is rather naive. Alright, hope you now actually start reading- education is a good start to break the shackles of ignorance. Good luck!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  33. Allison

    The majority of 4-H programs are now located in inner city schools and are less and less agrarian, even in rural communities – more and more sewing, cooking, nutrition, physical exercise, bicycle safety, photography, woodworking, some horticulture, electricity, crafts, "create your own" projects, leadership projects and way less livestock. Really? Of all the things to attack? A program that instills leadership and gives opportunities to youths who otherwise wouldn't have them? Get off your high horse. No pun intended. Also, the livestock that is slaughtered is sold at auction to local butchers and/or grocery stores – the youths never see or partake in the killing of the animal. Some donors who buy the animal at auction (all the money goes to the youth who raised it – usually for a college fund) even give back the animal to the youth because they only bid for charitable purposes / local campaigning. Next time, please consult your local 4-H extension office for facts.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  34. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    PURE STUPIDITY!! Plain and simple. First we allowed the sexul deviants to destroy the boy scouts. Now I guess 4-H is next on the list. Guess what folks. Not so long ago, the overwhelming majority of Americans were all "desensitized killers" (meaning rural dwellers and agriculturally oriented). And guess what folks. Back then, kids didn't go around shooting up their high schools and killing their classmates and teachers. Nor did they go around sexually assaulting their preadolescent playmates. Today we have kids with rings in their noses who sit on their rear ends for hours and hours a day playing 'murder simulating' video games and listening to blatant glorification of violence on their i-pods, and nobody seems to have much of a problem with that. But if a kid takes an interest in agriculture and wants to work hard and raise an angus for market....QUICK, CALL A COUNSELOR! I realize that the person who wrote this article is just one person and their stupidity is not representative of the entire media, but when you have an orgaization like CNN actually giving that person a platform, it makes you wonder. (God bless 4-H. There is nothing more American.)

    June 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  35. Knowledgeable children > Sheltered children

    I am a past Tri-Dam 4-H member, and I believe that every child should have to raise and auction a livestock animal at some point in their life. It teaches responsibility, independence, hard work and the way of life. In REALITY, livestock animals are bred to eventually be utilized in many different ways, including feeding people around the world. The food we demand here in the US does not magically appear from the sky, there are many hard working and heart felt people out there that make sure the demand is matched with a supply.
    I had raised livestock animals from the age of 8 to 18 years old, and here I am now putting myself through college on a budget built upon my earnings through those ten years. I am proud to say through 4-H and FFA I have grown to be a responsible, hard working, ambitious and loving person.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  36. David

    Give me a break, are you going to take away FFA next? I was raised on a small farm. I was hunting when I was 10. Dont send your kids to 4-H then, it was good for me and good for any kid. Because of 4-H, I was able to learn alot about life. You cant hide the world from kids. Stupid article, put kids in a rooom and lock the key is the only way huh.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  37. Cass Coleman

    This is ridiculous. If you don't like meat, don't eat it. I'm not forcing it down your throat. But for the love of GOD stop with this stupid moralistic love-all-living-creatures overkill (pun intended). You know what I find truly ironic and hypocritical? SO many of these IDIOTS are the same people that are pro-choice. You really REALLY shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

    Oh, and I'm not a republican or right wing. I am a center-leaning liberal and proud Obama supporter, but sometimes I am ashamed of the fools we have to deal with in the "liberal alliance." Just as bad as the nut job Tea Party/Sarah Palin contingent.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  38. Taylor

    Would you ignorant drones prefer these kids to mindlessly consume meat (like the MAJORITY of the country does), or could you perhaps drop the vegan activism for just a moment and see this organization for what it is: a life lesson. You all like to think that you are better (perhaps more EVOLVED) than your "savage" ancestors. Well, let me tell you, you most certainly are NOT! Millions of people in this country consume meat without ever knowing what it takes to put that meat on the table, I suppose to them IGNORANCE IS BLISS. I grew up hunting and fishing to sustain our family and neighbors. I never even had a an ounce of protein that I didn't harvest myself until I was in my teens and moved to a big city. These kids, (as well as the program), deserve a standing ovation. Kudos to the parents who have the foresight to raise their children to be self sustaining. I'm ashamed that CNN runs a story with this headline. This network has become as corporate as Fox. DOWN WITH RED JOURNALISM!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    You have misinfo about India and Hindus, and yet you're overgeneralizing it. I'll do a few corrections, and hope that you start reading a lot more.
    You say, "Most Indians are vegetarians." WRONG! Most Indians (52%) are non-vegetarians.
    You say, "in India the cow is a sacred animal, but this is where the hypocrisy starts." Yes, for many folks it is, but India is also the largest exported of beef in Asia. You seem to live in either/or world of extremes- but the reality if more varied.
    You say, "While most hindus do not eat meat, they consume dairy products and also do not hesitate to wear leather jackets and shoes and carry leather handbags." Why is it a Hindu issue? It is a question that everyone whole believes in animal rights and calls him/her a vegetarian needs to think about, but it defeats the purpose when you make it a religious issue? I know Muslims who are vegetarian? Should I make it a Muslim issue? Meanwhile, start with Maneka Gandhi's book titled Heads and Tails.
    You say, "Don't they realize that once the cow stops producing milk she is set free on the streets, surviving on garbage and plastic bags." True (you got one!), and this is why PFA and other groups in India have started creating awareness and raising funds for stray and abandoned animals. It is no different than Indians or any x, y, z, who talk big about child labor and yet employ young kids to work for them! or stay quiet when they see children working in small restaurants. I bet you have seen these things and remained quiet. I wonder why?
    You say, "And where do they think leather comes from ? Do they think leather grows on trees?" Of course they know, but what I don't know is why you think it's a Hindu issue? Religion is not a monolithic entity. You'll find Hindus and Muslims who believe in killing animals, and those who don't! Just like within Indian context even Sikhs and Christians have upper and lower castes among them- something that was unheard of! It tells you religions adapts to the local good, bad, and ugly traditions. For you to paint everything with the broad brush is rather naive. Alright, hope you now actually start reading- education is a good start to break the shackles of ignorance. Good luck!

    June 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  40. SlowMoneyFarm

    As a 4-H alumni that took many lessons from the projects done, I didn't see anyone desensitized. Perhaps having a reality of where food comes from is seen as cruel or desensitized but is it better to be dependent on others and processed almost like meat products? How about the processed synthetic meat from human poop, or processed soy that has far more processing than a cut of beef? 4-H teaches a wide variety of positive things, which many in the US would benefit from.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  41. Lisa

    Those who say it's raising kids to have no feeling/sensitivity have never been to the fair when the kids have to sell the pig/goat/sheep/steer ... Perhaps there would be more vegetarians if ALL kids learned this lesson? Additionally, there are a lot of kids/people who have an insensitivity to animals who never partoook in 4-H - explain that please.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  42. Frenchy

    How ridiculous– the idea that 4-H desensitizes youths to the killing of animals for food. Only some radical militant vegan would come up with that crap.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  43. ratso

    I was traumatised by the horrible and inhumane – and yes, indefensible – things that were done to carrots. No one seems to understand that they are living entities and we must take care to not harm our carrots.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  44. Tom

    I find this entire thread somewhat unbelievable. People eat animals and (usually) kill them before doing so. Killing for food desensitizes you only to killing for food. This natural and is not limited to 4-H ... I remember eating a pig named Sadie – she was raised for food, named and eaten.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Omnivore

      Exactly, killing for killing's sake (like what gangs and criminals do) is obviously unnatural and immoral, but killing for food is completely natural, so the argument that eating meat makes you less of a human is retarded. If that makes us non-human, I guess the vegetarians would be pushing for annulment of our human rights next.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  45. Melanie Wilt

    4-H Kid – 13 years old and mature beyond his/her years. This is why I am proud to support 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  46. Former 4Her

    I spent ten years in 4H and learner many wonderful things. I raised and sold many animals. The money I earned went toward my college education. These animals were VERY well taken care of, living in large pens and eating pricey food. Yes, I felt bad, but I knew I took good care of them and they had a good life. 4H taught my the value of life and respect for others, including animals. Join 4H and see for youself what the have to offer. Our country needs the values that 4H teaches, now more than ever.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  47. Molly

    OMG this makes me so mad! My local 4-H club was an incredible, life-changing experience for me (Go Town & Country Hillbillies!). Not only did it help prepare me for college, help me get scholarships, and let me participate in the county fair in a way that is just so fun and amazing, but I developed friendships I know will last me the rest of my life, and I figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Yes, I took market steers during my last few years, and yes, almost all the animals were being taken as food animals for market and would therefore eventually be killed, but I did not meet any single child who was desensitized to killing. In fact, many of the kids became so attached to their projects it wasn't uncommon to see kids crying after the sale at the idea of having to give up their pet! If exposure to experiences that will only help kids learn necessary skills they will carry into adulthood is not an opportunity that is desirable for our youth, there is a serious problem with the people of this country. SUPPORT 4-H, and don't let this propaganda spread. It's one thing to push for animal rights (hey, everybody has a right to their own opinion), but this is just ridiculous. This is one of the best programs out there for American children today, and it does not deserve this negative label.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  48. kayakerjess

    Don't be opposed to meat in general, but everyone should be aware and very skeptical of the industrialization of the American food supply. Chemicals upon chemicals heaped onto our vegetables and into the water table in the name of the almighty dollar. Chicken houses are off limits to journalists or cameras because they are so horrendous. And, you cannot convince me that a slaughterhouse that processes cows in such masses can possibly ensure the cleanliness of all of that meat. They walk off the feed lot covered in excrement, after all...

    June 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  49. GiveMeABreak

    Seriously? If anything it teaches kids about real life...caring about the environment, caring for animals, and knowing what really happens before the burger lands on their plate. it's a tough lesson and hard for kids to let that animal go up for auction after caring for it for so long, but that is reality and we need to stop sheltering our kids from that.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  50. geezus

    all you "christians" read history. jesus was more than likely vegetarian! yep, sorry to burst your christian bubble.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Seriously???

      maybe, maybe not, but there is only one of him, the rest of us arent him, that choice was his, my choice is mine

      June 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • mother of four

      I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but I couldn't resist. Just exactly WHERE does it indicate this in the Bible? As someone whose read hers' pretty intensively, I'd love to know what tidbit of information I've missed here.

      Meanwhile–here's what I've got–In Luke 24: 42-43, we see Jesus eating a piece of broiled fish given to him by his disciples. Another time he sat on a hillside and fed people loaves and fish. And another time told a story about a father who killed the "fatted calf" in celebration of his son's return. And–of course–there's the famed Passover feast (the last supper) in which they ate lamb. Also, Jesus dispelled the tradition of clean and unclean meat when he spoke to Peter by way of a vision in Acts 10:10-15 when he was making him understand that the Gentiles were just as important in the kingdom of God as the Jews were. And–one last thing–In Romans, the Apostle Paul stated that one man's faith may let him eat anything and another only vegetables, but both are loved by God. So if he was vegetarian, he did a good job of disguising it.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
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