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. Jess

    The animals are also not raised at pets. There is an understanding from the beginning that the animal which you spend so much time grooming and working with will likely end its life as someone's sustenance.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  2. Noor

    Gimme a break. 4-H is probably letting these kids see where their food comes from. Just because they have cats and dogs doesn't mean they'll come to love all animals. Instead, the contact with these animals might help establish more empathy. I have a friend who became a lifelong vegetarian after she spent a month with a calf, only to realize it got slaughtered later, quite the opposite of desensitization. I also come from a country where people raise cows on their backyards, and then slaughter them and eat them. Is that cruel? Should we avoid seeing where our food comes from, and stay away from the killing, so that it gets served as nicely cut cubes in the grocery store shelves?

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  3. Bridget

    I was in 4-H for many many years and while there were kids like me that showed animals and raised them for meat there were MANY MANY MORE kids that had no animal projects. in fact I believe MOST of 4-h involves things like photography and art and the most important thing to 4-H VOLUNTEERING.
    I can only name a handful of kids that had animals for meat.
    and as for desentitizing....the kids that raise animals for meat are always raised on farms so whether or not they joined 4-h they would be raised like that anyways.
    its life... deal with it...you can't tell me you eat a burger and NEVER think about how it got to your plate? I raised numerous cute little lambs that were sent to slaughter and i cried every time but that's life!
    4-h does wonders for this country's youth...i didn't take anything away from 4-h agriculturally...what i took away from it was the sense of SERVING OTHERS that is the true value of 4-h

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  4. Matt

    I'm pretty sure that the majority of people that have never seen the meat they eat 'on the hoof' are far more desensitized to killing than the people that understand, take responsibility, and don't sugar coat the provenance of their dinner. Insofar as food animals are placed in poor conditions and mistreated, it is largely to keep up with the demand of the un-concientous masses that think meat comes from the grocery store. As the son of a cattle rancher, I'm shocked to learn of the conditions that some animals endure because its so completely contrary to my own experience. As a hunter, I take the responsibility for personally killing the meat I eat. Far from desensitizing me, I think it gives me heightened awareness of the moral consideraitons involved with being carnivorous when I must make the decision to fire the round that fells a majestic, living creature. So question the very idea of eating meat all you want. I sometimes have very mixed feelings about it myself, and I'm fairly well into the carnivorous Texan camp. But its nothing short of ignorant to proffer the idea that those than understand and are quite closely exposed to the source of meat are somehow desensitized. If you want to see desensitization, simply go to your local grocery store and look for the heavily discounted family packs of steaks and chicken that just magically appeared.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Clu

      100% agreed. By in large, Americans are so far disconnected from their food sources that the idea of raising an animal for food seems cruel and unusual. To boot, the idea of laboring in this way flies in the face of the prevailing mentality of instant gratification. Working the land, growing crops and raising livestock is a legacy that has become lost to most of us.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  5. Missy M

    Of course 4-H, FFA and other programs aimed at teaching kids the business aspect of agriculture desensitizes them to the fact that yes, farm animals get eaten and to be eaten, they must be killed. But the programs also teach kids to care for the animals, give them a good quality of life and in the end, seek humane slaughter methods. It's programs like these that improve the meat and dairy industry by teaching kids to treat the animals as more than a cash crop – they learn to respect the animals that the fact that the animal will eventually sacrifice its life to nourish a nation. I'm a flexitarian (my own kids are vegetarians) but I'd eat 4-H raised meat over grocercy store meat any day.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  6. Barry N.

    Anyone who eats meat, fish, poultry, or any animal product is responsible for the killing of animals - they/we just pay someone to do the killing for us and we can forget about it. So unless you're a strict vegetarian, any argument about killing animals for food is nonsense and hypocritical.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  7. Yooperman

    I live in an extremely rural area. I taught HS and most of my students were 4-H kids. Everyone one of them has "killed" fish, wild game, and farm animals and eaten them. They all also have access to guns. Why has NOT ONE of them ever used a gun to inflict injury on another human? "Desensitized" I think you should send all those city "gangstas" to the country for a couple years and teach them the value of life and a few other lessons. I, too, love animals, right next to the mashed potatoes!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  8. Amy

    Those who do not know about "the 4-H" should spend some time learning before they make such harsh judgements. The fact is most Americans do eat meat. I would much rather eat meat grown by someone raised in 4-H rather than someone just in the business of farming because 4-H does teach ethical, practical, and useful lessons. I was raised in 4-H. I learned to train dogs. When I have my dogs in public I am usually bombarded by adults that are amazed that my dogs are not bouncing off the wall trying to escape me. I learned Public speaking. At work, at church, at family reunions, at funerals, I am approached time and time again about how brave I am to speak in front of people. As a matter of fact, quite often when I see someone speaking well in a public forum, I ask, and most of the time they were in fact 4-Hers as children. Most farm kids learn early in life that their best friend often ends up as dinner. It isn't a happy moment for a child, but reality prepares children to be responsible adults much better than disguising the truth. When I speak to groups of grade school children I often ask them where milk and bacon come from. It is sad when children respond with "the grocery store" The farm kids know where milk and bacon come from. They are also kind and gentle with animals. They are not desensitized! They are fully aware of the cycle of life at an earlier age and how important it is to treat animals, and PEOPLE with dignity and respect. They also get things done when everyone else is standing around in a confusing situation. I fear that comments such as those made by Heather, ending up in the media head lines, have the power to undermine all that good that programs such as 4-H accomplish.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  9. The Truth

    Hmmm, maybe these meat eater haters should expand their campaign to other species as well. Meat eating animals show their children how to hunt, thus desensitizing their kids to killing for food. If its nature's way for creatures of this planet not to eat meat then they should be successful in stopping them from attacking and eating other animals. Until then I must follow nature's example and eat meat. Now bring forth a cow I want to look into its eyes as its being processed into my steak. I want it to know it is I who will be eating it.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  10. laghoulie

    REALLY! 4-H is teaching kids to kill other living things? Who are you people anyway? Where do yo live? It's ok for the "YOUTH" of America to join a GANG and do DRIVE BY SHOOTINGS over DRUG TURF, but GOD FORBID THEY LEARN TO KILL AND ANIMAL FOR FOOD! I like the new craze of FLASH ROBS they are doing now. Clearly we have an ARISTOCRACY!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  11. darthnormand

    We bought a rabbit from a breeder who sells animals 4H and sponsors them. The rabbit is about the best pet I have ever had. The breeders took very good care of it when him, his siblings and mother. This was their favorite breed, and while there were hundreds of other rabbits, this was their favorite. My rabbit's brothers and sisters were sold to 4H kids to be raised, entered at the state fair, and then auctioned off. The kids have the option to keep them as pets. Knowing mine, they would probably keep it. I am not against 4H at all, however, one cannot help but feel some attachment to some of these things. My cousin used to raise sheep and won many awards for hers at 4H. While they are very sweet animals, they are awful pets. I have no problem eating lamb, but would never eat rabbit (even though I know they are delicious).

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  12. rgvg

    The worlds going to h3ll in a handbasket and these idiots are focusing on 4H this is as bad as when we were just in cali and the gov. bans toys from happy meals when cali. is bankrupt. GET A LIFE

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  13. Clu

    We as Americans are, by in large, so disconnected from our food that it seems cruel and unusual to imagine that an animal you raised from birth will be butchered for food. I'd offer that raising your own food is fulfilling and gives one a better appriciation for life, reduces the desire to waste and offers some peace of mind that the death of the animal was done as humanely as you as an individual could possibly offer.

    This is in stark contrast to factory farming where all the animals are crammed into spaces barely large enough to accomodate it and where, when the end of their suffering finally comes, it is an assemly line atmosphere with no feeling whatsoever. The only motivations there are ones involving efficiency and the bottom line.

    Farming, animal husbandry and working the land is a legacy that is lost to our current high-tech, fast paced and self-centered society where the thought of such labour flies in the face of our instant gratification mentality.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  14. VANewsMan

    Isn't it great that we live in a country that is so rich that people can act like total snobs about how we eat? It is only because so many of us are far removed from our food sources that people find killing animals shocking. Live in nature for a while. How humans kill animals is far more humane that how other animals do it. Feeling morally superior for not eating meat is just a borderline-religious delusion.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  15. Greg

    My kids are in 4H. They've raised sheep, pigs and a heifer. They are very aware of where food comes from. I think it is really important for them to see the cycle of life. We are hunters, too. They have seen me offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for allowing me to harvest one of his magnificent creations. We aprreciate our animals. They are a gift from God given for our sustenance, not pets It's sad what this country has come to. Too much Bambi.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  16. Uniquitous

    Really!?!?!? With all the stuff on TV, you really think 4H is desensitizing our youth? Come on!

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  17. Tom

    Animals are delicious. Roasted. Toasted. Ground up and charred. Delicious and nutricious.

    Perhaps the PETA folks should leave their New York and San Francisco townhouses and experience the real world. Not the world of Bambi and Charlotte's Web movies.

    The 4H folks are more in tune with nature than Greenpeace, PETA or the ASPCA. Humans are omnivores like many other animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  18. Michele Payn-Knoper

    If anything, 4-H teaches exactly what humans should have; a healthy respect for animals and the life cycle. I was in 4-H for 10 years and have served as a volunteer dairy leader for nearly 15. We are in the unique position that very few of our 4-Hers come from a farm; many are from suburban areas. I could cite the lessons of work ethic, responsibility and confidence that comes from young people in 4-H animal projects. But out of respect for your post, I'll point to the fact that 4-Hers learn how to honor the ultimate sacrifice animals pay so that we can eat as humans.4-Hers are taught about animal care, sound nutrition and where our food originates – the farm. There are few other programs that can give children these experiences – and honestly, I wish more would be exposed so they didn't buy into the misinformation raging rampant about food.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  19. Jess

    Right... and all the video games, horror movies, and TV shows depicting violence not towards animals, but humans, doesn't desensitize our children a single iota. It is educating them to be responsible, informed individuals that does that. Knowing and appreciating the effort and life that goes into their dinner definitely will make them completely disrespect the value of a life.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  20. Melissa

    As a person who grew up with 4-H and was involved for many years, and has slowly watched it die, I think it is very sad that this program is going away in Ohio. It taught me so much. I learned valuable skills such as how to conduct myself and dress myself for interviews, sewing, cooking, nutrition, responsibility, and earned money. These kids spend HOURS raising those animals. These aren't your stuffed full of garbage, never exercised, pieces of meat that are raised in mass production. This is high quality, hormone free, grain fed meat. I raised rabbits, mostly show rabbits, but I also did meat variety. First and foremost, I NEVER killed any of my rabbits. If they were sold during the 4-H auction, then they go to a slaughter house like ALL animals sold for food. Kids don't hold the proper licenses to slaughter an animal for human consumption. I think if most of us actually knew where are meat came from most of us wouldn't eat it, or would start raising your own. I will take my hand raised beef any day over that junk in the store. I know it will not cause my kids to be full of pre-mature hormones and increase their chances of cancer.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  21. Hayley

    My husband and I grew up in 4-H, and I don't regret a second of it. 4-H taught me about being a responsible citizen, being accountable, as well as allowing me to branch out of my comfort zone as a shy kid.I learned so many invaluable lessons. It angers me to hear that people would think that being in 4H desensitizes kids to killing. What about all of the war/murder video games that kids play these days (that don't have anything else to do, vs. a kid involved in 4-H...) In my opinion, those types of games causes more desensitization to murder/death.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  22. Scribbler3

    We raise our own steers and poultry for food. I raise them from babies and there is no desensitization involved. I always cry. I make sure all our animals are naturally fed, healthy and content and of course I get attached. We slaughter on-site to minimize stress of shipping and arriving in an unfamiliar place with strange sights and smells and–although Dr. Temple Grandin has made enormous strides in the industry–so I know it is done right. They are quietly eating in their home pen. One shot. They literally never know what hit them and then they become meat, not "Spot, Chrome, or Baldy." Yes, they often get names. And when we eat that healthy and indescribably delicious meat, it is with respect. We know where it came from, what is–and isn't–in it and NOTHING is wasted. It's called respect. And yes, I was in 4-H as a kid, but not on the meat producing team. 4-H is a fabulous organization.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • guest

      i applaud you! why are these comments full of hate and name calling? I became a vegetarian at 30 in response to the cruelty of factory farms, after 22 years, I see no need to return to eating meat. But when someone acts ethically as you do, there is nothing wrong with meat eating. Many vegetarians are not opposed to the "circle of life", we are just aware of the barbarism that exists in commercial transportation, fattening and slaughter of animals and we will not stand for it. and for the record, many of us also oppose abortion and are still social liberals, a term we are proud of.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
      • Maureen

        yeah right

        June 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  23. noddanerd

    How many of you posters are Pro Choice? How many support Planned Parenthood? If you want to talk desensitizing people to slaughter, these groups are the epitome, and the slaughter is of humans, not animals that were bred to become food, thus are predestined to be slaughtered. Is it possible that there is a bit of a double standard here?

    June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Bill Sullivan

      They don't care if you kill babies only animals!! At least the people killing their babies are liberals. Means one fewer liberal to grow up and suck the marrow out of our society!

      June 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  24. Polly

    I don't have any problems with the 4-H programs teaching their kids the circle of life. I think it's much better for the kids and families to be more familiar where our food comes from than continue to live in pure ignorance of the facts involved as the mass majority of city dwellers are. We shouldn't be dependent on imported produce and meats – we should be able to be self-supporting and know survival skills and this is part of the process.

    But not all 4-H groups are created equal (as indicated in the story). In the Seattle, WA area there's a 4-H program were the kids raise Service Dogs for a non-profit organization called Canine Companions for Independence. It teaches these children compassion for their fellow man/woman/child with disabilities and that dogs can be more than mere pets or neighborhood nuisances.

    Our school's own 4-H program involves getting to know our forests, local flora, and native animals. But this is the group for elementary school... not sure what is involved for the middle school or high school 4-H programs here.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  25. For the record

    4H is a great organization and gives kids a great perspective that they will NOT get in the idiot factories known as our public school system.

    Vegans are more often than not self-righteous fools.

    George W. Bush was the greatest president this nation ever had.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  26. Robert

    Let me see now
    Kids video games that are non stop shooting and killing, violent movies and TV shows vs 4-H that gets kids off the couch, outdoors and teaches them things that will prepare them to be more sucessful and well rounded members of society.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Gayle

      amen to that!

      June 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  27. tonya

    ps folks, some 4-Hers grow up to be farmers, even "factory" farmers...& I guarantee 4-Hers are a better source of info on farming than Food Inc. In fact, 4-Hers likely HATE Food Inc, since it's lopsided propaganda.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  28. 4-H For Life

    When I was in 4-H I used to give my pigs names.. walk them everyday... feed them everyday... They were not pets but projects with a purpose. Yes I named them and got attached to them and took care of them for 5 months during the year, but I knew where bacan and ham came from and because of that I understood their purpose. I have been to the state fair where they let pigs compete for the "World's Largest Boar"... if you ask me walking my animal to the slaughter trailer after a 4-H auction is way more humane than letting my pig reach 1200 lbs and watching it suffer. 4-H taught me to be responsible long before most kids have understood the meaning of the word. It's a valuable life lesson that I'm glad my parents wanted me to know and I will pass it on to my children as well.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Kristin

      I'm so glad you wrote this. I feel the exact same way. I also grew up in 4H for pigs, beef and dairy cows, goats, chickens and horses. I always grew attached to my project animals but understood what they were being raised for. If anything this is making kids more sensitive to the processes of meat production. Other kids grow up not appreciating where the hamburger they're eating comes from. Does this mean that children who never had the 4H experience will become killers? That is how ridiculous this discussion is.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  29. TonyB

    Meat is for eating. What a nation of wimps and pansies....

    June 23, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  30. Former 4-Her

    I used to be one of those kids crying at the end of the sale. It taught me a valuable lesson about loss which we all have to deal with. It taught me that all animals have personalities and should be treated with respect. I loved them and they loved me. For a young person, that has a big impact on your life. I didn't like letting them go but appreciated the sacrifice they make to feed us.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Maureen

      Fellow 4H'er, I remember seeing our stock auctioned off. The first few seasons were tough, but as one grows we begin to understand the circle of life, We have a direct understanding very early of death. .

      Very few farm kids will have to be told what happens when things 'go away'. Too many of my friends from school on up were told of their 'pets' who "ran away" never to return, because parents couldn't/ wouldn't explain that the pet had to be put down.

      Truth always wins. I never misunderstood. And I did learn to deal with death. Even the death of something/someone I loved and cared for.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  31. Jimmy

    More stupidity from liberals intent on having everyone live in their fairyland world. Where do they think meat comes from? A magical tree? Idiots.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Nick

      I'm not sure you can equate some radical and uninformed vegetarians view with "liberals". That is the problem with our political discourse. You use liberal like it is a dirty word.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
      • Rob

        THANK YOU for that. I am a county agent and I consider myself a democrat and my views are generally liberal....however, to brand 4-H and people who consume meat as something that is akin to murder needs to get a clue, do some research, or both. As has been stated numerous times, we are in FACT omnivores. If you so choose to not eat meat then great for you but to demonize an organization that teaches children values, responsibility, ethics is about as twisted an argument as I have ever heard. BTW, I like my medium rare :-)

        June 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • liberal really?

        I second that Thank you! I've been reading these comments thinking what does veganism and vegetarianism have to do with being a liberal? I don't think the word liberal means what people think it means or else they would stop using it to label anyone who is different from them. I consider myself to be liberal and I have been a meat lover since birth. Medium rare for me too!

        June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  32. Mephisto

    What Vegans and their ilk won't acknoledge is the fact that their position is only made possible by our country's largesse. I see them as very hypocritical.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  33. Willie

    Humans are at the top of the food chain. We eat meat, just as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Get over it.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  34. Luke

    4-H is a great thing to be involved in. It teaches life values and gives young people a chance to express themselves in constructive ways. People who think it is a bad thing to raise and animal and bring it to slaughter don't know what they are talking about. Its a part of life. Always will be and there will always be young people learning great things from that experience.

    Go protect yourself naysayers.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  35. Dave

    Animal husbandry programs in 4-H do not de-sensitive the kids to killing, if anything it makes them more sensitive and aware. Getting your beef from a supermarket aisle where it sits in white styrofoam and plastic wrap, THET de-sensitizes people. MORE people need to get out and actually see what goes into that pound of ground chuck or that porterhouse.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  36. packhawk

    I was in 4-H for nine years, raising and showing cattle, learning to be responsible. I learned more in 4-H about recordkeeping and budgeting than I ever did in school. It is extremely fulfilling to witness the miracle of a calf's birth, watch it grown, tame it, teach it to lead, show it, be the cute kid winning trophies, etc. The cattle are like pets. I cried when it was time to sell them, knowing full well what their fate would be, but also knowing that is their purpose. I wasn't sad for long as the next year brought a new cute little calf to raise. Yes, truly the circle of life. I was happy knowing my steer's meat was going to provide someone with a tasty steak dinner, and I usually made a little money along the way. All great lessons for a kid to learn.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  37. Tired old joke that always gets trotted out

    PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals

    June 23, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Maxx

      More of a Tastey joke :)

      June 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  38. Ben from Florida

    I grew up in the south in a very rural area. If it wasn't for things like FFA or 4-H I probably would have ended up on meth with many of my constituents rather than pursuing a degree in Physics at a nice university. I learned more about teamwork and the value of honest hard work than I ever did about killing. I learned how to mend fences, keep crops healthy, and most importantly keeping animals healthy and happy. Just because you're going to eat them doesn't mean you hate them, its simply the way the world works. Not everyone can afford to be vegan, if that's your stance, that's fine. Nobody is forced to join the 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  39. Bill Sullivan

    This is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen on CNN!! I guess you folkls would rather see your kids running the streets on their skateboard with their pants hanging of their butt! Don't forget the cigarette hanging out of the mouth. The only people opposed to 4-H would have to be ingorant liberal vegans who claim they need their medical marijuanna to get through the day. Your precious "whole foods market" sells meat so you should NOT buy anything at their establisment if you truley believe what you are saying. Video games that enable kids to act out killing and raping women desensitizes kids to violence. My daughter has showpigs and will have to let her pig go at the fair. She IS emotionally attached but she knows that pigs are for eating! GROW UP PEOPLE!!

    June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  40. pokie

    I think 4-H is a great program. Not all the animals are sent to slaughter. Some are bought and given back to the kids or used in ones own herd/etc. Some are bought and butcherd in a MUCH more humane way than any beef/pork/poultry you will find at the store. If kids learn anything about death, it is not to be desensitized to it but how to deal with it in a healthy way. Every living been on this earth dies at some point. Some animals are used for food. So if one can know that they cared for their animal and gave it a good life while it was here and that it sacraficed it's life for someone to have a meal. I see no wrong in that lesson. If you dont want to eat meat. That fine. But dont condemn those who do. I also like to restate what the article and others have stated. NOT all programs in 4-H are about raising animals that will be eaten. There are other categores. So if you dont want to participate in the meat process, try one of the others.
    check out documentary Food Inc. . buy from farmers markets and get your meats and dairy from local farms.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  41. Evil Grin

    Uh oh. I sense the Vegan Imperialist Army on their way.

    Our food comes from somewhere. And as a race, we're not like to stop eating meat or dairy products any time soon. Everyone should learn about where their food comes from. It allows them to be informed and take responsibility. 4-H is a really good way for kids to learn about the cycle of life, taking care of the animals, and humane processing for food. There is nothing desensitizing about it – unless you are the type that wants to lock your kids up in a golden box to try to keep them safe until they are 50.

    Wouldn't you rather equip your child with the maturity to be able to make informed decisions based on first hand experience with the animals?

    June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  42. JaredinVA

    UNREAL!!! After reading this article... I am putting my 4 boys in 4-H!

    June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Luke

      Do it! It is a great experience! You will enjoy seeing them do things with it too!

      June 23, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Elizabeth

      4h is an amazing experience. depending on your area the projects are different. My daughter is a very active 4H'er. We do the horse side of things. LOVE it.
      when we were in AZ (my daughter was not old enough to participate) we saw kids raising their pigs, these kids put themselves through college with money raised from their pigs, year after year, saving what their pigs sold for! It's a wonderful and amazing experience and a great bonding opporitnity

      June 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  43. Julie

    Both 4-H and FFA taught me valuable life lessons and to appricate the circle of life. I have raised animals and known where they were going. It does not desensitize you. It makes you approciate life. Maybe more children should get involoved with these type of oganizations. We might have less gang crime and less killing, because you know the ramifications. How can someone write such drible and call it news. It is sad that these educational oragnizations are under attack. I am what I am today partly due to these oganizations and what they taught me about life and how to live it and be a contibuting member in it. More parents should guide their kids to be in these types of organizations, they are truely a blessing.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  44. Ms. Nelson

    For those who respond to these articles with "these poor animals raised as pets are off to the slaughterhouse where they will be tortured before they die " I would ask have you personally ever been to a animal processing plant or a large farm where the animals are raised? Have you with your own eyes witnessed this "torture"? My guess is no you have not you are reading opinionated articles or half truths. My suggestion is before you comment on someone else's way of life you educate yourself first, with full truths.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • 4-HisLife

      Ms. Nelson, these are the same people who have bratty kids because they don't believe in disciplining, either. Their kids NEED 4-H to learn life skills, but all they get is video games and TV that teach them to kill and send nudy photos over the email.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  45. AJ

    Who is this, PETA? We had cows when I grew up as a child. I was taught that they would be food on our table. I was proud to help my family. I would never consider myself desensitized. Give me a 4H Steak anyday.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  46. np

    I was in 4-H growing up and did get sad with the first couple of animals that got sold. I was also sad when my dad sold any animals from our ranch because I knew where they were going. This is just a different way of life and a difference in opinion. 4-H helps kids get scholarships to college and the opportunity to learn many different things (not just about animals). If you do not believe in eating meat then don't put your kid in 4-H! I will not force my kid to be in 4-H but I also won't make them eat meat if they don't want to. Why can't everyone just accept that people will have differences of opinions and stop judging others!

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  47. Ncik

    This is RIDICULOUS. For thousands of years, children grew up on farms and watched animals being killed. Before that, children travelled with their nomadic parents following herds of animals. They watched those animals being killed as they ran for their lives.

    Only in today's world is the idea of seeing the animals you eat somehow strange.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  48. Jerrry

    Do ignorant vegetarians desensitize kids to idiocy? The fact of life is that animals eat other animals to survive. What is the difference between harvesting an entire field of living wheat to make bread versus sending a cow to the butcher? Are plants "less alive" because they don't have faces? How many of those urban-dwelling vegetarians have ever been to see the farms where their food comes from? How many of them have seen the dirt-poor illegal immigrants picking their fruits and veggies for $5 a day so that some rich New York bleeding heart vegetarian can buy a $3 organic apple? There is a cost to everything we eat, and unlike the snotty liberals those kids in 4-H have a real understanding of that cost.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • 4-HisLife

      After being in 4-H and learning about where my food comes from, I'd much rather have meat from a 4-H Animal than a stupid organic apple any day.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  49. Spearwielder

    The fact is, most of us are many, many steps removed from where our food comes from. If we want meat, we go to a store, buy a neatly packaged bundle of protein, and go merrily on our way, oblivious to how that source of that steak came into being, grew, and ended up in that nice package. At least 4-H kids learn the reality behind the entire process.

    To many of the commenters here: Just enjoy your blissful ignorance and go on your merry way in your smog-choked cities, far removed from the realities of the food you eat.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  50. kp

    People just need SOMETHING to complain about! Now that I read this article, I really want a big juicy steak! BRB

    June 23, 2011 at 11:50 am |
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