Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?
June 23rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
Share this on:

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

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

soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. jturgeon

    Didn't California ban toys in happy meals because it promoted obesity in some convoluted, have-baked liberal way? I ignore just about everything from "that" side about morality, this is no exception.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  2. MK

    I grew up, along with my sister, in 4-H. People who are turning their noses up at this program have obviously not looked at the bigger picture. Yes there are programs that teach you to produce livestock, but most of the kids (not all) who take part in this program are raised with this process. They live on farms, where generations of their families have made their living from the production of meat. So, they are not desensitized, it is their way of life.

    During my 4-H years, I traveled the US showing horses, took part in camps that taught me how our government works or how to just be a kid, learned public speaking and photography, was taught responsibility, public service, and gained life long friendship and connections that helped me later succeed in my college and professional life.

    So, parents, if you’re looking for way to keep your kids out of trouble and give them wonder life experiences, you may want to look into your local 4-H program.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  3. Ron

    The author's intent was to inflame similar to shock jocks. Since 4-H has been around since the beginning of the last century if there was ANY merit to his pathetic hypothesis the wacko's would have jumped on it long ago. Have a great day and enjoy a steak.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  4. You have got to be kidding!!

    You have got to be kidding with just the title of this article "Does 4H Desensitize Kids to Killing". Has our society gone completely off its rocker! Kids now days are exposed to so much desensitiziatiion of killing through movies, video games, crime solving shows, news, local street violence, bulling at schools, youtube videos, and the list goes on. It is so bad tha now a days a person actually has to make an effort to search out postive stimulating and good fun programing in order to get away from all of the violence out there today. 4H is the least of society's worries.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Kelli

    I run a reputable feed store. Many of my customers are 4-H kids, and I have purchased their animals to provide food for my family. I know how the meat was raised, and what it was fed. I also raise my own chickens and beef for meat and eggs. I have butchered my own chickens, and my children have helped me. They are taught to respect the animals, and realize that even though it is not an easy task, that is where our food comes from. 4-H is a tool to educate kids, but it boils down to the parents, and their attitudes. I quit 4-H as a child when I witnessed mistreatment of a hog. This was done by a parent, not a child, and I made my choice to teach my own children values, and not leave it up to a club.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Stephen

    Just wanted to reinforce that animal husbandry is only a small part of the organization that is 4-H. To elaborate, I thought I would list a few of the other courses offered within a 4-H club: Also please feel free to visit the National website for more information:
    Afterschool Agriculture
    ATV Safety
    Child Development
    Consumer Savvy

    Dairy Cattle
    Dairy Goat
    Exploring 4-H
    Exploring Your Environment
    Food, Culture & Reading
    Health and Fitness
    Health Rocks!®
    Latino Cultural Arts

    Meat Goat

    Outdoor Adv.


    Rabbit Reading/Financial Literacy

    Science Discovery
    Service Learning
    Small Engines

    Theatre Arts
    There's No New Water

    Veterinary Science
    Visual Arts

    The Power of the Wind
    Workforce Readiness

    June 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm |

    This is for Jerry who believes that killing animals by Kosher law is humane.

    Really whom are you kidding? Slitting the throat of an animal and see it struggling as the life blood slowly drains out of its body, that is humane? And if the blood of the poor animal is impure, why don't you realize that it is the very blood that sustained the meat which you use in your Kosher hot dogs.
    Dumb morons.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  8. bigdoglv

    This city slicker who wrote this is a fool. The 4-H clubs have been a wonderful organization that helps teach our future producers how to feed our country. Stay in your cubicle and leave these future food producers alone!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • valerie

      so once again hey im in 4-H :D and i could not ever eat hamburger ever again after i saw a dead cow being butchered, so yep this dairy farmer that i am totally wants go go around killing every living creature i see watch out ...just kidding in reality no 4-Her is like that god get you facts right!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  9. killallthewhiteman

    Again, people all high and mighty on their high hoarse about their love for animals. Listen up dingbats. Animal rights only came about when humans had enough free time to think about stuff like that. You think that there were animal rights and vegans 1500 years ago? The answer is no. Now that people have so much time on their hands, they can start caring about stupid stuff like this. The reason we have so much time is because of technology, science and domestication of animals. There are countless products and processes that we all use every day that are directly related to a dead animal. People with Diabetes, people who get certain heart surgeries, ice cream, glue, beer, cars, and some peoples houses all contain animal parts in them. The list goes on and on.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  10. TE

    So why is it okay from any other Omnivore or Herbivore on the planet to eat cows, pigs, etc but not humans? I know plenty of people that were in 4H and they are much more sensitive and caring than those that were not. How many of today's kids out there shooting each other, beating each other,etc have ever raised an animal or slaughtered one for food? I will bet you cold hard cash that the ones in 4H and at the bottom of that group.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  11. Lacey

    This is ridiculous!! 4-H made me a vegetarian; growing up on a farm/ranch desensitized me to killing. The animals raised in 4-H are given names, you have to gain their trust and you basically befriend them in order to show them. I always cried when I sold one of my animals at the 4-H auction, and it was because I knew what was going to happen to them very soon. There is much MUCH more to 4-H animals than what people see at fairs, and maybe talking to some of the kids about their animals would change some opinions. You don't see the hours they spend just sitting near their animal waiting for them to get more comfortable with them, the days upon days spent training them so they show well, the endless hours spent cleaning and grooming them for show, and the tears and heartbreak after they part with their animal when it has been sold.
    The cows that my Dad raised specifically for meat were another story. We knew they were going to be our food so we didn't name them or get attached. When the freezer got low it wasn't an issue to call the butcher.
    We have a very big problem with food in this country, and I think if more people actually knew where their food came from, and what went into raising/growing and processing it, we would be making much better decisions on what we put in our mouths. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing what goes into your food and being ok with the process, which I think is a big underlying message in 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Lacey

      *desensitized me to killing animals for food, not killing in general. :)

      June 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  12. SO into 4-H

    I disagree. I learned many valuable lessons in 4-H and to be de-sensitized to animal killing was not one of them. Its been 10 years since I sold my last pig at the fair, and I don't believe that was a lesson that I learned. I'm an avid animal lover. I would say that one of the most important lessons I learned during my pig raising/selling was that, the meat we have on our plates comes from living animals. I learned that if you are going to eat meat, you should know where it comes from. Since my family eats meat, it was important to us to know that it was grown responsibly (not in confinement and not poorly treated.) I assure you that every pig I ever owned had a name, and I also cried every time it sold. But on the other hand, the money that I earned by selling my pig helped pay for my college. So that was another life lesson. That you have to work hard, and some times it takes heart break (selling or eating a pig that you raise), in order to lead a productive life. I could go on with many examples of life lessons learned as a result of my involvement in 4-H and specifically when it comes to the raising and selling of animals. But I stand firm as an animal lover, and will continue to love animals and be an advocate for children to be a part of this amazing organization.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  13. lolsauce

    Sorry TV desensitizes children to violence, humans have been eating animals for a very long time. Teaching a child that you have to kill an animal in order to eat teaches a life lesson, just as those hippies have to kill a plants seeds or babies to eat their "non violent" food.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  14. John

    What is ironic to me is that I've yet to meet a vegan who has any experience with cows, pigs, chickens, goats, or what have you. The degree to which city people project their feelings on to animals is just astounding.

    People do not eat meat because they have to, they do it because they like it. Those who do not wish to eat it are not required to do so, why should I be required to eat what the vegans like? Will they then dictate what pastimes I may pursue? What movies I may watch? Hard to sympathize with people who seem to think there is only one way to view the world.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  15. jturgeon

    Note to people who do not like 4-H:

    Don't send your kids there.

    That is all.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Quackles@jturgeon

      Libs don't have kids, because they typically abort them.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
      • first your parents gave birth to you

        and then your family abandoned you (live psychological abortion)

        you really need to inflict the world with your hate

        June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
      • Phfyrebyrd

        Alright, let's see how many strikes I can wrack up: I grew up a farm kid, but was not in 4H. I had pigs, goats, chickens and cows, not to mention about half a dozen barn cats. I always knew the cute little cow I fed and tried to pet every day was going to be dinner some day. My uncles threw pig roast parties in our driveway in the summer. I scared me a little when I was small, because I wasn't used to the animals looking like that. But I knew pork was tasty. Some of my friends growing up were in 4H. Now I'm a left-of-left liberal (and pro-choice for what it's worth) and I write about food safety for a living. And my family still farms. Eat what you like. Don't eat what you don't like. Leave the rest for people who want it.

        June 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  16. annie

    I just love pigs, love'em love'em, love'em. They're so smart and and full of personality. I like to eat them, too. But I pay REAL close attention now to where my pork comes from. Stories of awful pig-raising conditions turn my stomach. And guess where I learned to like and care about pigs so much – MY BROTHER RAISED PIGS IN 4-H!!!!!! And I really don't care what anybody thinks of this post – Rant all you want, won't bather me...

    June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  17. outawork

    When did PETA start writing articles for CNN?

    June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Brian K

    This is the most ridiculous and out right stupid article I have ever read!! 4H does not desensitize children to the killing of animals. It teaches them hard work and dedication to a project in order to reach their goals and to provide a college education for some that would not be able to have one if not for their 4H projects. The animal projects follow a typical everyday process for meat production. The animal is fed for a certain amount of time and then is sent to the slaughter facility for meat after the county or major show. There is nothing in there about desensitizing a child to killing in any way form or fashion. This article and way of thinking is a large part of the whole problem with this country. People have forgotten where they came from and where their food comes from. Next time you think about writing an article, find something worth while to write about!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  19. Tanis

    Yet more evidence of the continuing slide of America into Idiocracy.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  20. DocBlogger

    What if people who love meat and have it everyday decide to have one meat free day, or even a single meat free dinner? That can reduce meat production by almost 15%. The try another day. That's it. And every so often, just have it every day. Your personal choice. It takes a lot of energy/water to get a pound of meat, much more than pound of food grains.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Melissa

      Just one question.... How are you going to fertilize your land for your harvest if we don't raise any animals? Animal poo (typically harvested from farms) is your natural fertilizer for your organic veggies. So are you going to go to chemically produced fertilizers and hormones that pollute streams and have adverse health effects on humans, or you going to go to the farm and stick a shovel out for some good old grain feed biodegradable cow manure? And before you point to the cow manure as a cause of sickness in your vegan life, it's your big business causing all the salmonella and e.coli outbreaks, cows are meant to eat grain, not corn.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
      • DocBlogger

        Perhaps compost plants that the animal would have fed on? The animal is likely to consume more plants than needed for compost. The issue here is, a slight reduction in meat input cant hurt.

        June 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Missy M

      I agree .... Americans DO in fact eat too much meat and it is healthy to forego it for a day or two a week. Our family turned flexitarian a few years ago (after being vegetarian for a year – and my kids are still vegetarian by choice) – I will not buy grocery store meat and rarely eat restaurant meat (only if I trust the restaurant's sources) but I'll eat meat from my local farmer friends or a 4-h raised animal any day. I'm not opposed to eating meat if it is raised and slaughtered humanely and I respect the many people who eat meat daily, but our main purpose for going veggie-flexi was environmental concerns and health.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  21. eehkb4

    I grew up in 4-H. I showed cattle for 8 years. I am now a CPA – not a bloodthirsty killer. I also happen to consider myself to be VERY left wing. This article is based on a phishing expedition by "journalists" who did what they were told. They found the stories they could spin utterly (ha ha) out of control. This article has zero insight and intolerable misstatements based on personal and corporate bias – not objective opinion. The agenda IS NOT WORKING. There is a wedge being driven between this countries food providers and consumers. Are there changes that need to be made? Absolutely. Should producers and consumers be working together? There is no question. However, articles like this only serve to inflame the masses and portray a very small minority of CHILDREN as future blood thirsty animals. I am extremely disappointed CNN. This is not the kind of propoganda I expect from you.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  22. laghoulie

    Hey all you VEGANS lets see you stop Afican Lions from eating Gazells there too cute to eat! Sniffle, sniffle get me a tissue I feel a tear comming on.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  23. fuzzynormal

    Here's a better question: Why can't I buy an actual whole fish anymore from the local grocery store? Why is it that I can only buy neat chunks of meat attractively labeled and wrapped under tight cellophane?

    Just about anywhere else in the world and it's commercially important to allow the consumer to view the product before and during the butchering, but not here. Curious. Could it be because an inferior product with attractive packaging has a better profit? And ain't that the American way? Exploit the stupid.

    The market wants ignorance from its consumers. The very folks that decry animal cruelty encourage it by creating this sanitized view of the product.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  24. Lacy

    Unless you kill and process your own meats for consumption, you should be aware of how this process goes.
    4-H teaches responsibility and respect. People just want something to complain about and someone to attack.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  25. Hank

    You have got to be kidding me? I'm not going to waste my time putting up an argument so much. Let me just say this. Why don't you urban / suburbanites who have made a life out of not caring where certain things in life come from or how they get in their home, on their plate, etc, just get back in your SUV's (which most can't drive anyways and have never seen a tiny bit of dirt in its life). Stop trying to raise everyone else's kids and concentrate more on your own neglected neighborhoods and families. The rural people of this land will continue to do the work for you and provide you with the things that you need/want by working hard so you can sit at home in the A/C and collect on your government checks and go through your "hampster" lifestyle of wake up, work, try to make people believe you know everything, go home, eat dinner, take your pills because of your depression )or any other condition the doctors tend to make up to keep you in control), go to bed. The majority of this society today is truly pathetic/weak/truly stupid. Do not critize or comment on a life style you know NOTHING about. (and yes, I have lived in both)

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  26. 4H Childhood

    I was a member of 4H for 5 years. I raised sheep, showed them at the fair and finally sold them at auction. It required discipline, care and hard work. I loved my animals. The process is heartbreaking. It was also one of the best lessons I learned.

    Meat comes from animals. Yes, animals that were raised by people. Animals that should be treated with respect, nurtured and given the best possible care. (The money I raised also paid for the 1st year of my college education.)

    Respect and responsibility are not abuse.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  27. RF

    I was in 4-H for a few years and raised sheep. I got very attached to them as they quickly saw me as their heard leader and would follow me around without a lead no matter where I went. I took them on hikes in the hills behind the ranch where I kept them, I washed them, I hand fed them, I brushed them- they had a great life. When it came time to auction them off, I was very sad each time, but I understood that I had given them a better life before slaughter than they would of had in a commercial operation. At the end of the day you go into it knowing what the outcome is going to be so there are no surprises.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  28. twophad

    It is not like tv–done for sensational effect. That desensitizes. As the daughter of a farm boy who raised animals for slaughter growing up, I know that families who did that were MORE aware, not less. 4-H is teaching reality, not to be confused with "reality tv."

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  29. Stop the madness!

    Only a bleeding heart liberal from the city or a vegetarian who thinks they know better than all the carnivores of our society would spout such ridiculous nonsense. Animals are raised and slaughtered for food...PERIOD! By the time kids are in 4H they know what happens and while maybe grossed out by the process, they can handle it. Any chance there is a survey out there but a unbiased group to show what percentage of 4H members drop out after auctions or slaughter house visits? I'm gonna go out on a limb here by assuming almost none leave the organization. For sake of this discussion lets say I'm right about that assumption so what can said about this? The youngsters are becoming desensitized and the non-involved adults know better than the kids of 4H and their supportive parents? Or are these kids learning about a career path that they find rewarding? Sometimes people need to mind their own business and let parents worry and guide their own children. What works for one person isn't a “one size fits all” solution for everyone else.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Monica

      It has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative... I am a liberal but am very pro-4-H (and I am not one of few, there are many of us)

      June 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  30. John W

    Ok, I am a typical bleeding heart.

    But this article is completely absurd. I guess in our modern world its easy to forget that mankind as a species has killed animals for food for thousands of years. There is hardly a more ethical act with regards to nature than to be responsible for your own consumption.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  31. Really.....

    Please you people need to get a life. My 4-H kids know where their food comes from, how to process it, and how to raise it. Your gang banging, video gaming, desensitized kids are the ones that have no feelings. Where does milk come from or that burger your eating? The grocery store of course!! How do you get to a point in life where you bury your head in the sand and say NO I don't like mean people that kill cows and take their milk. We raise turkey's, chickens, rabbits, cows, and goats and guess what.....My kids love them all and they also know the how to process each animal to feed our family. 90% of the country could not even tell you where a roast, ham, or tenderloin comes from on an animal. 4-H kids can tell you. So many valuable lessons are taught in 4-H I can't even name them all. I'd much rather see a kid involved in a program like 4-H that teaches leadership, speaking skills, honor, integrity, and of course animal husbandry than have them sit in front of a TV listening to CNN babbel on about how BAD people are because they sell an animal after raising them. Go talk to some 4-H kids and see how different they are. The first thing you will see is they are respectful and they will look you in the eye and talk to you like an adult. I'll take 4-H kids over gang bangers and CNN reporters any day.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  32. Melissa

    4-H is about teaching kids responsibility, leadership, and community involvement. They need to be responsible for their animals and other projects that they take on. They are taught how to be leaders- meetings, holding offices, etc. Most 4-H clubs do community service i.e Adopt a HIghway or Road cleanup. plant flowers for the nursing homes, help out an afternoon in a nursing home, plant and maintain a community garden.
    They are taught record keeping- they have to keep a record of that animal that they raised i.e. how much the animal cost, how much it ate, how much vet bills were, and then they have to figure what they sell the animal for to see if they make a profit or loss.
    I was in 4-H for many years and never once have I ever considered myself "desensitized" to killing. I find death hard to embrace, for animals and humans. This is how the food chain works people- you want a hamburger a cow needs to die– its a fact of life!!!! Don't diss the 4-H programs until you have been to a meeting and seen all the great things these kids do!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  33. Robert

    If we're not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?

    June 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • guest

      HUH? I hope you are joking. because humans are also made of "meat". perhaps you would approve of Soylent Green.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  34. MJK

    This is necessary. This is necessary. Life feeds on life. Feeds on life. Feeds on life.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  35. Michael

    I was in 4-H from 5 yrs old until I graduated high school and went off to college. My sister was as well, and our mom was the local 4-H club leader. My family did not raise animals, but we fully participated in the many other programs 4-H offered: public speaking, crafts, community service, leadership development, etc. It was a fully formative program for me and I'm glad it was a part of my life. A healthy debate is a good thing, but focusing in on one part of 4-H and using it to push an agenda seems a bit unfair to an organization that had done lots of good.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  36. Rach

    I completely disagree with this article. I was in 4-H for many many years. I have such an appreciation for animals. The people who are opposed to 4-H have never been in 4-H themselves. If they have they would understand. 4-H teaches them responsibility. Some of the peoples comments in the article are just absurd. They have NO idea about 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  37. drslarson

    I was an active member of 4H and FFA. I grew up on a small farm. I think that living on a farm and raising livestock is reality. Did I get attached to my animals- yes. Did I have to sell them- yes. But we knew that prior to choosing to show livestock. It did teach us animal husbandry and a respect for the livestock industry from raising chickens for eggs to show calves. Both 4H and FFA teach responsibility and leadership. Participants are not required to show a "market" class of livestock- it's a choice. And, many of us had already been exposed to the industry- raising market stock and selling to provide food to others. If you do have a chance to attend a county or state fair watch how well the animals are taken care of. Watch the sale to see the kids letting go of their pets. They are far from insensitive.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  38. willie

    Absolutely retarded. Everyone who eats meat should participate in the slaughter of food animals. It teaches you respect and gives you appreciation and knowledge of where your food comes from. People not understanding this is the real problem.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  39. ShutUpHippie

    My uberhippie cousin once demanded that I watch a video of cows being kicked, firehosed, beaten, and otherwise tortured when I mentioned to her then-fiance that I could go for a steak. It was absolutely ridiculous. Firstly: What's the point? It serves no commercial interest to physically abuse food animals. Secondly: When adrenaline is released into the system, it ruins the meat, so why do something that would cause that release?

    When I pointed this out to my cousin, she called me a nazi as her fiance (and still good friend of mine) laughed. So instead of pointing to the tiny percentage of slaughter houses that actually abuse their animals, take a look at the vast majority that conduct the kill in a quick, efficient way. And pass the steak. I'm hungry.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  40. Dan

    I hope the writer of this article realized they are in the extreme minority with their point of view. They are welcome to their opinion, but degrading those who have differing opinions (which is a majority of Americans) is over the top. Instead of telling the writer that their thoughts on the subject are wrong, I will simply say this. Knowledge is never a bad thing, and in order for today's children to make up their own minds in an educated way about what they will and will not consume, they need to be exposed the entire process leading up to what ends up on their dinner plate.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  41. noddanerd

    I grew up participating in 4-H, and don't remember any program that was intended to desensitize me to killing. Quite the opposite, we learned respect for life and respect for food production. My family raised all of our own animals for food, milk, eggs, meat, out of economic necessity. 4-H helped us to learn how to be more efficient and how to make use of our resources effectively. I am pro 4-H in case anyone was wondering.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  42. Matt

    Also, no food is made without getting a bit of blood on your hands. Pesticides are used to kill millions of 'pests' and end up killing fish and other animals exposed to chemicals. Field animals are brutally mangled in harvesting equipment. Eating involves death whether you are a vegan tending your own garden or a carnivore.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  43. Mildred

    Ask ten kids off the street in various places where chicken, or steak, or hamburger comes from. Most (primarily from urban and suburban areas) will say "from the store" and not understand the process that puts food on the table or into the McDs on the corner. And it's not just little kids. A non-insignificant percentage of people graduate high school without knowing that hamburger ultimately comes from a cow.

    (Just like a young lady I knew who had just graduated high school and thought that Alaska was an *island*, so she was surprised when I told her my fiance had driven there on a road trip one summer.)

    June 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  44. Joot

    As a 4-H Alumni, I can attest to the positive lessons this organization teaches. Yes, the rural clubs are greatly comprised of farm-raised children. Here's the thing... If a child was raised on a farm that produced livestock, the lifecycle (birth to death) of animals is not foreign to that child. By the time I was eight, I knew how animals mated, prepared for birth, gave birth, cared for their young, played, hunted and fed, defended themselves and their young and their domain, responded to sickness, interacted with other species, died (and then processed as the case may be), and returned to dust. Those moments were continuously happening, before my eyes, among the animals (Cattle, horses, swine, chickens, dogs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, fish, etc.) on our farm. It was/is reality.

    Animal husbandry... understand what that means. We NEVER mistreated our animals in any way. If for no other reason, they were expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, and required much time and care to husband them properly. Did we develop emotional attachments develop between us kids and some of the animals? You bet! But, we were also taught the proper perspective of our animals and our relationships to them.

    I particpated in 4-H projects that involved animals and those projects that didn't involve animals. Due to this country's move away from an agrarian society, today's 4-H clubs consist of chidren who are mainly working on projects that do not involve animals.

    It's a great organization. Anyone who disagrees is ignorant of the depth, scope, and purpose of the organization.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  45. Michael

    Imagine if everyone was as hyper-sensitive to animal deaths as this writer is. People would start a ranch in the pursuit of raising cattle to sell as meat, get attached to 3,000 cows and won't let them be butchered. 4-H is set up for kids that could possibly go into this field, if you aren't then don't bother, ITS NOT REQUIRED. It sets you up for the reality of the job.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  46. Quackles

    Got to love the far left...Wholesale murder of babies is "choice". Raising animals for food is wrong though. Typical of the far left party of hate.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • fuzzynormal

      Be careful with that large brush, slappy.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Clu

      I don't see this as an ideological issue but an issue of education and awareness. People who do not understand where their food comes from will find it difficult to look at an animal and equate it to the neatly packaged USDA Choice Ribeye steak at their local grocery. There's nothing political about that.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  47. JoeVermonter

    In a world of kids playing Modern Warfare, Call of Duty, Black OPS which allows them to kill human looking avatars, we are worried about kids being desensitized to raising an animal for food!?!?! I've been apart of the 4H program and still raise my own meat and in my experience kids show a tremendous amount of respect and care for the animal. It requires a ton of time and commitment, every day. If they show the animal the kids have to work with it... again EVERYDAY. Chances are that animal won't end up on your table but their families. So unless you raise or you know who raises your beef, chances are it comes from one of those CAFO out west filled with antibiotics, living the last of their lives in totally unwholesome non caring environments. Better, like pork or chicken? Go see how they are raised and worse, slaughtered.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  48. Wolf

    Growing up around my grand parents I knew that they raised chickens, ducks and a small herd of cattle on their property in Maryland. I learned to kill and prep a chicken when I was around 10 years old. Excellent eating for fried chicken. They had a deal worked out with a local small shop processor who killed and processed the beef. I was taught if you want good quality meat to eat then raise your own herd or flock. My grand parents ate red meat twice a week (packaged and frozen for when they needed it) and chicken two to three times a week. The rest of the meals were from veggies grown in their garden. We didn't need a 4-H, but I think the program is awesome. Not everyone can have family that believes in being self-sufficient.

    I now have a producing garden, fresh eggs (there is no better egg than Pekin duck eggs!) and trade for grass fed beef from a local cattleman/processor.

    I don't understand what the commotion is all about.But, I would hope that all the kids involved in 4-H want to be there and want to participate in learning agricultural ways and livestock raising and slaughtering. Some ultra sensitive kids may be overwhelmed by the process of slaughtering.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  49. Deborah Giuffre

    Give me a break!!! I grew up on farm where we slaughtered our animals for food. I was in the 4H club also. Even though I didn't raise my own cows for show, I wasn't taught to de-sensitize my feelings for animals. I love animals, but truth be told, cows, pigs, and chickens were created for the purpose of providing us food, clothing, and comfort. If anyone can think of one redeemable quality of these animals other than food, clothing or shelter I'll stop eating them them tomorrow.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Annie

      Give me break! Are you kidding me? Next, you'll be eating and wearing cats and dogs and using the same degenerate logic. Anything with a beating heart was not created for the sole purpose of food and clothing, and, i'm pretty sure, has proved to exhibit a "redeemable quality" to someone at some point. If you've ever had a pet that you've loved and cared for, I can imagine that you'd be finding redeeming qualities in that animal, so why would a cow, pig or a chicken be any different? However, that being said, it is the right of any American to have a choice in what they say, do, or eat. If you want to raise animals solely for slaughter than have a party; however, understand that there are many people who do not share the archaic opinion of a cavewoman. That's the beauty of living in a free country.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
      • Missy M

        Annie, your comments show very little respect for the vast majority of Americans (and people worldwide) who do consume meat. Meat is a healthy source of protein that helped the human species evolve into what we are today. My guess is that your opinion meat-eaters and farmers comes from PETA videos of slaughter house abuses, rather than talking to and getting to know a farmer. Calling farmers "cavemen" is offensive and childish. Without the American farming industry (and the meat and dairy industry is a huge component of American farming) Americans and much of the world would starve to death. Shame on you for your lack of intellect and inability to respect others. Yes, there do need to be improvements in the industry – some slaughterhouses are not humane – but farmers and farming programs like 4-H are working to improve industry methods so that animals have a good quality of life and a humane death. And yes, it is a fact of life that some animals are meant to be eaten – that's life, and if you don't agree, I suggest you begin by having a chat with the lions and tigers in your local zoo and explain to them why they should go vegetarian, because animals should not be eaten.

        June 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  50. fuzzynormal

    Yeah, I'll guarantee you that kids involved in 4H have a much more healthy relationship with their food than most of these idiots that are "appalled" that animals are killed for their meat.

    The attitude of this complaint is basically "ignorance is preferable."

    But, you know, them city folks is so much smarter than us yokels.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
| Part of