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. Rachael

    I cannot believe anyone would accuse 4-H of being a bad program or desensitizing kids to killing animal. The only animals that are killed in the 4-H programs are used for food. If you are not a vegetarian, you eat meat from an animal that was killed. Vegetarism is not a healthy choice for kids and most adults and there is no need for the government to promote it. 4-H kids learn the proper way to care for farm animals and there is always emphasis on humane treatment. They are no more guilty of killing animals than the people eating at In and Out or Mc Donalds. PETA has a right to say what it thinks. It does not have the right to attack a great program for farm kids. I was in 4-H for years as a kid and it is a great program. Yes I raised lambs that were eaten. At least I understand where my dinner comes from. 4-H animals are the ultimate organic meat and live a much better life than most of the animals that end up on your dinner menu. The attacks on this great organization are disgusting!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • David

      Whoa, rein in there, cowgirl. 4-H is a human organization and prone to all of the mistakes and self-righteousness of any other human activity. 4-H puts way too much emphasis on competition and not enough on cooperation, for example. There's a subtle pressure for kids to enter as many classes at a county fair as possible because it makes the parents and leaders look food and feel good about themselves even when the kids are just going through the motions.
      So, yes, defend 4-H but let's not deify it.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  2. Trey Ryan

    Shame on the editors for even publishing a story like this. I was raised in FFA and 4-H and loved it. Had I been raised in Boy Scouts or the Boys and Girls Club, I am sure I would have loved them. This article is no more than the publishers, trying to stir up emotions between different groups of people.
    For those who cry that it is immorale to raise our children in 4-H, I say to you, "Let me raise my children how I see fit, you raise yours how you see fit." My children will be allowed to do whatever activies they like (Safety and leagality overiding factors). If they want to hunt and fish, so be it. If they want to stand infront of a slaughter house and protest, I will gladly drive them there. That is the beauty of this nation. CNN stop trying to pit the people against one another.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  3. justinh

    It is a matter of conservation vs stewardship.

    I believe we all have a responsibility to be good stewards (care takers) of our planet. Conservation can be good, but only if it does not remove humans from nature. For example, if you have ever seen a coral reef in person it will hold a special place in your heart and therefore you will want to tend, keep and protect it. If you rope-off a beautiful beach and don't allow humans to interact with it just to conserve it. The love for it will be lost.

    4H puts young people in the food process whether it plant or animal. It takes hardwork and care from people and animals to get food to our table. 4H animails, far more often than not, represent months, if not years, of hardwork, care and compassion. There are always many tears on auction days, but that is part of the process. Sacrifice from the human and sacrifice from the animal. 4H has grown far more compassionate participants in nature than hardned killers.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  4. svann

    If you dont like the idea of stuff dying so you can eat then maybe you should eat dirt. Oh wait, dirt comes from decomposed dead stuff too. Eat air.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • there IS an option...

      eat poop burgers. vegans cant complain about that...

      June 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. DJ

    You people who oppose 4H are part of the problem in this country. It is one thing to oppose the cruel treatment of animals but to go after organization that educate and support our way of life as Americans is just down right un-American.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  6. David M

    For those of you who proclaim that eating meat is a sin, you need to get over your self righteous self. Everything you eat was alive at some time, so does that mean we should stop eating?? Many of you are more concerned for how an animal is treated than how humans are treated. Why don't you take some of that concern to the streets and help those who have NOTHING to eat? Or maybe you don't want to get your hands dirty helping those worthless lazy people? Get your priorities in order before you start lecturing me about the treatment of animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  7. Nancy

    My children were in 4-H for years. They learned more than producing animals for food. They learned about team work ,
    sportmanship, business, consideration, respect and good work ethics. Their happiness after judging was for a job well done, completing a job from start to finish and resposibility. They accepted the processing of the animals as a necessity for feeding the world. Get correct information and then get over yourselves.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  8. motherof3

    Humans are omnivorous by nature. We are designed to consume both animal protein and vegetable fibers. Some vegetarians and certainly the majority of vegans will end up on supplements of some kind due to lack of intake of certain fatty acids that our bodies require. While we may benefit from a mostly vegetarian diet, and indeed it is recommended that a regular plate contain mostly veggies, some protein and some complex carbohydrate, we still require animal protein to get a well rounded diet. That being said, there is no reason to mistreat the livestock that is the food supply for our society, and this is where the 4-H comes into play. Furthermore, part of the obesity epidemic is that we are not consuming whole foods. We are consuming foods that have been ether genetically altered or hormonally altered, neither of which our bodies were designed to consume without adverse effects.

    For those of you who choose not to eat animal protein, good on you, but I don't question your life styles, please don't question or belittle mine. Whether you choose to eat meat or not, those are your decisions and certainly if I had you in my home I would at least try and make one dish specific to your dietary needs, as I do happen to enjoy my veggies, and I would encourage you to bring your own dish to share. All I ask in return is that you are respectful of my choices as well.

    As to the desensitization, it is far more likely that children have become desensitized due to the lack of censorship in today's media that children have access too by unscrupulous parents. Today too many kids are allowed to sit in front of a television screen and allow their brains to turn to mush playing numerous violent laden video games or watching highly inappropriate violent cartoons or television shows. I have 3 children, and yes we have an X-box, a PS3, a Wii and 4 computers. That being said, my children get 1 hour of video game time a night, generally with the entire family and they are NOT allowed to play violent games. What television they do get to watch is censored and age appropriate, and most of the time they are kicked outside to play with their friends, ride their bikes and generally get down right dirty like I did at their ages. My children are healthy, happy and well rounded with respect for authority and respect for their fellow man and animals. One of my children has ADHD, ODD and a couple of other issues, and we're seeking treatment for him, but overall they are well rounded individuals.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Momof2

    I think children are desensitized more to killing by playing violent video games, but, I do not preach to people about what they expose their own kids to.
    We have always believed in being honest with our kids (4&6) about where meat comes from they know chicken is from real chickens, pork from pigs and beef from cows. My son did question "angel" hair pasta.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  10. Julie

    Please......Our family was very involved and 4H and FFA. What great family activities. We showed all kinds of animals... My children learned the value of a dollar and responsibility. IF more kids had chores down at the barn with the family... we would have a lot less deadbeats... My sons have grown into wonderful young men. One is a Fireman and one is Purnia Feed and Fertilizer Dealer... and I think 4H and FFA help mold them into the men they are today.. Whoever wrote this article is probably a vegetarian... Get a life.... Pick on the over weight kids sitting there playing video games that never go outside. Hard work and repsponsibility never hurt anyone. Teach to them with love and guidance. I am so proud of my guys.. I am so lucky to have some wonderful and loving sons... and we have lots of pets that we love dearly.......

    June 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  11. Samuel R. Preston, III

    I don't think 4H desensitizes kids to killing...but the camp I was sent to as a kid was called "The Killing Camp", and yeah I think that desensitized me to killing a little.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  12. 4-H Supporter

    OK! Where are these people from?! Their opinions on 4-H are all wrong. In response to Heather King (from the article); when an animal is auctioned off at a 4-H fair they are not actually being handed over to the highest bidder. The bidder is bidding on the animal, yes, but the child gets the money and keeps the animal. It ISN'T being auctioned off to be killed. This is just a way for the child to raise money for the next year. This helps with food and other costs. These kids (their parents) most of the time have to buy these animals so that helps pay for all of their expenses. Yes, in most cases the kids sell their animal to someone who wants to have it butchered or the family that raised it has it butchered for meat. This is desensitizing the children as most of them live on a farm and already experience this as the circle of life? My family owns an Angus Cattle ranch. My niece and nephew are in 4-H. They have seen goats, cows, cats and dogs all be born. They have also experienced having them die from natural causes. They bottle feed, pet, walk these animals. They also realize that when they are older they will go to heaven and God Blesses our family with meat that is food for our family. This isn't something that is new. We take pride in the fact that we grown/raise most of our food. We know what we are consuming and know that it isn't filled with fillers, pesticides, hormones, etc. We know that the animals that we do butcher have been treated with love, respect and kindness their whole lives. We all work the land to make sure that everything gets done. Do you have that relationship with your food? Do you work that hard so that your family can eat? Or do you sit around while someone else does it, go to the store and buy it, and then waste food because you know you can just go buy more?! I betting most of these people fit the last description. You say that it desensitizes people? My younger sister (a 4-Her) is planning on going to school to be a vet so that she can help animals. How is that her not caring about animals and cheering for them to be killed? Get your facts straight people! You all still probably buy Free Range Chicken and eggs because you believe that it is more humane when in all actuality it is a worse life for these animals as they are very aggressive and fight each other until on is dead. Yeah, real humane!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Thepoint

    I think the point that everyone is missing is that in 4-H, kids raise and nurture these animals. The kids fall in love with them, because, well, these animals are just as responsive to kind, loving care as dogs, cats, and other animals considered, in our culture, off-hands for food. We then force the kids to sell the animals to slaughter. To me, that's not only a breaking of a trust with the animal, but the CHILD. Very few kids are prepared for the sense of loss and betrayed engendered by selling off their animal, and selling the animals to slaughter doesn't exactly encourage feelings of protectiveness and sensitivity in these kids. It's traumatic for the kids, sorry, gang. And it ain't much fun for the animals either.
    And by the way, our canine teeth are tiny, tiny compared to true omnivores/carnivores, so tiny that we have to cook our meat to be able to rend it for eating. (Plus we have a natural revulsion toward raw meat.) Don't see tigers cooking meat, do you?

    June 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • motherof3

      I don't know about that natural revulsion towards raw meat, I happen to really enjoy sashimi and sushi with raw prepared fish. I love my beef medium rare (more on the rare side) but am adverse to eating raw poultry or pork. You also forget the large number of people that enjoy other raw preparations of food as well. Watch the food network sometime and you'll be amazed and the number of raw applications that are served up for gastronomical delight.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • jturgeon

      They tell the kids this is going to happen, it's not like shock therapy "surprise, bessy is going to be dismembered now; we fooled you! Hahahaha; now suck it up and deal with it."

      June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  14. T3chsupport

    If you eat, then you kill. Unless you are raising all of your own vegetables by hand without equipment, you are killing. If you buy from a grocery store, you are contributing to that killing. The difference here is that no one is lying to themselves about what's going on. These animals are respected in life, and celebrated in death. If you don't like animals being tortured on factory farms, try going after the factory farmers instead of the children who are trying to make a difference. You're never going to get everyone to stop eating meat, and to continue to try is pointless and stupid. The best you'll ever be able to accomplish is to provide a happy, natural life for livestock until their 'one bad day'.

    If people didn't eat meat, things like cows, chickens, goats, pigs- would become extinct. They cannot survive on their own, and there would be absolutely no reason to keep them around. They're expensive to care for, and don't make very good pets (you can save it on the 'pigs are smarter than dogs!' bit, they're pushy idiots. Even the ones that are good pets aren't that great as pets).

    Everything has its place.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Mac

    There is no need for name-calling and insults in this discussion. There will always be vegetarians and vegans just as there will always be carnivores and omnivores. Agree to disagree, show some respect, and discuss the topic maturely.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Programmr

      Agreed. Also, don't throw out all of the good an organization does just because you disagree with one facet of it. Raising farm animals is just one facet of 4-H.

      The 4-H pledge is:

      I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
      my heart to greater loyalty,
      my hands to larger service
      and my health to better living,
      for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

      I still remember the pledge to this day. If you read it and think about it, it's actually quite good.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  16. Brian Gardner

    I grew up in 4-H and I have raised everything from quail to cattle. I wouldn't trade my experiences for the world. I love 4-H and everything it taught me. I have used a lot of the lessons from 4-H in life. Doing the projects, going to camp, and participating in the fair are all unique experiences many people will never have and for that I pity them.

    My first animal was a lamb. I was unable to show her in the market category because of the emotional attachment I had to her. Instead, I showed her as a breeding lamb and that fall I had her bred by a friend's ram. She was one of 4 and she had twins for her first delivery. I used her lambs for the next year and the woman I bought her from was willing to take her back. After that I still remained emotionally attached to all my animals, but unlike my first lamb I reminded myself of the reasons I had my lamb the whole time I was training them.

    In high school I raised my first pig for the FFA's Ham, Bacon, and Egg sale. Unlike my other animals I had the responsibility of butchering my pig. After that I took a day off from school and I stopped eating meat for 6 months. I am back to eating meat but I don't particularly like to eat pork. I've never eaten lamb, and I particularly don't like eggs (I didn't like eating them before I had chickens either). To anyone who says that 4-H desensitizes kids to kill animals is just stupid. Throughout 4-H and FFA I was taught the proper, humane way to kill animals and I was always taught the best ways to cause them the least amount of pain. It is not something I would like to do, nor would I like to see it.

    After 4-H and FFA did not sign up to go to butchering school nor do I go hunting. I signed up in Animal and Veterinary Sciences wanting to be a large animal vet. I am not going into agriculture professionally; instead I am going into nursing. I want my children to participate in 4-H and FFA and I plan on purchasing enough land for my children to raise any animals they want...whether for agricultural or personal reasons.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  17. BobH

    Why beat-up 4H while your spotlight should be pointed at supply and demand. I guess most humans like to eat meat. I know reality can be upsetting for most of us who go and buy their food at the grocery store – everything packed in nice – neat – see through meat bags. It's major paradigm shift from reality to go foraging in a grocery store. I think anyone who becomes a 4H member and actually participates – has a way of being grounded in reality that’s down to earth and thoughtful more that any group I know. Watch some TV – take a look around – then get back with me on this one.

    My daughter who chose to be a member of 4H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) is an adult now – has an affinity with nature and a love of animals which goes beyond words. She is now a care taker of animals at SPCA as certified veterinary technician in a spay & neuter clinic saving domesticated animals from a futures of pain and suffering – and she loves her job! It’s a great thing to see your child living a fulfilling life of their chosing.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  18. Former 4Her

    As a former 4Her I must disagree with this article. It does not teach childern to be cold blooder animal killers. It teaches America's youth responsibility, respect and discipline, what much of America is missing. It also teaches youth where their food comes from whether it be beef, pork, chicken, vegetables or fruit. Articles like this are absolutely ignorate. If people would come to rural America and see the time and effort it takes to start and finish a 4H project they would not write articles like this for people to argue over.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  19. Jean

    Ever watch a nature show? It's not Disneyland out there, you know, with talking animals helping each other raise their babies. Predators tear prey animals to shreds, sometimes start eating while they're still alive. Baby animals and old ones are most vulnerable. There is no going 'out to pasture' in the wild.

    We domesticated animals for milk, meat, eggs, skins. Farm animals wouldn't exist if we didn't breed and use them. If we stop using them, we won't breed them and they'll die out. Some people think they should be 'freed'. Where? And what would happen to them? They'd starve, or be eaten by wolves.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Jodi

    I was active in 4-H throughout my entire youth. I am saddened by the nasty comments people are making about a great organization. Yes, we raised animals with the knowledge that they would be slaughtered for food. However, there was most certainly an emotional bond. We spent countless hours caring for these animals...and I promise you that many tears are shed over 4-H animals. Some might think it cruel for both the animals and the children – but it teaches an important life lesson that we should all learn. The food that is on our plate comes with a price. When I go to the grocery store and buy my neatly packaged meat, I have a more more profound understanding of the animal that lost it's life so that I can eat. It is not a good thing when we live in a world where children believe that hamburger meat comes from a plastic tube. If you're going to eat meat, you should be aware and appreciative of the sacrifice that was made to get it.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  21. there IS an option...

    you know...we could avoid this whole issue and just go the route Japan is and start making burgers out of human excrement. add a little protein and they taste just like beef. neither the vegetarians nor the beef eaters can complain. no animals are being killed, we're recycling, and protein is in there. Poop Burgers!! they're what's for dinner!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  22. Dan

    I'm pretty sure kids playing video games like grand theft auto where you murder people in a video game is a little more desensitizing than teaching kids about the food chain, life, and death. This is just more liberal propaganda.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • lolwut

      I'm sorry, but where did you get the idea of it being "liberal propaganda"? I'd consider myself fairly liberal on some subjects, and I agree that people eat meat, and animals are raised for meat. So don't get all silly and make an arse out of yourself by putting such an unintelligent label on the subject.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • lolwut

      Also blaming videogames is just another way for someone to try and shift the blame away from lazy/bad parenting.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  23. TruthandJustice

    Is this a joke? One of the main purposes of animals is FOOD. They spend all day eating grass/grain so they we don't have to. They spend 8 hours in the field and 6 chewing cud so we only have to spend 15 minutes eating a steak. Everyone, even children, know the difference between people an animals. If you want to spend all day eat plants and grains then fine, go do it, but stop making bogus claims in attempt to prove your idiotic ideology. Killing animals food does not desensitize anyone to violence against humans. Animal rights activists are the ones who desensitize kids to violence because they're the ones trying to teach kids that animals have rights.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  24. outdoorsjake

    I am a beginning farmer in Pennsylvania. Separation from our food sources disconnects us from reality. Recently I was describing my farm which includes vegetables, eggs, and rabbit meat to a mutual acquaintance. She displayed her nonverbal disapproval. To which I naturally assumed, "You must be vegetarian." She said, "Well no but..." and was basically left entirely defenseless and tried to rationalize her view somehow. This happens to me all the time. It's a bit bizarre and akin to entering a dissociative fugue state. People need nature. People need to raise their own food. Some of that food is meat. 97% of Americans eat meat. Kids need responsibility, education, nature, and respect for life even more. Yes farmers can and do respect life. Sick and tortured animals cannot grow or reproduce which is essential to a farmers business. America needs more local family farms and 4H is an important part of this.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • JBooneMN

      Well stated. Thank you.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  25. Former 4-Her

    I'd also like to note that many 4-H animals are the most well-cared for animals in the world.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  26. Yar

    Just because you disagree with the 4-H doesn't mean you have the right to take it away from those who support it. It's ironic that the liberal veggie hippies espouse free speech but try to take away the activities of others just because they disagree with them.
    John Stuart Mill once said that allowing free speech would allow the truth to be uncovered, but it seems you hypocrites don't want that to happen. Slaughter houses are clean and humane, and adhere to a number of rules, the only examples you people cite are the ones that you pick and choose while 99 percent of the rest do things humanely.
    Sitting in drum circles and smoking pot won't get you anywhere hippies haha

    June 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  27. JBooneMN

    As an ex-4Her, now grown up with kids of my own, I can tell you this...Those animals are the BEST treated animals on the planet, bar none. India has nothing on a 12 year old's love and dedication to their animals. The tears at the end of the state fair and auction were because we knew exactly where they were going and why. I am still concious of where I purchase my family's food. Organic, field raised and loved is what we get. Until you have been in 4-H and know what its about from the inside, you have no place accusing ME of being cruel.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  28. fundies

    we need more kids to go through 4-h. they'll be a lot less uptight than most of the flakes in this gay forum.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  29. Daniel

    Oh this is rich! Kids watch hundreds of murders a year on their TV, kill thousands of people a week in their video games, go to school and vivisection living frogs and mice and then some idiot wants to say that if a child raises an animal and sells it knowing that it is going to be killed that he or she is being desensitised and made into a cold unfeeling subhuman person?

    People like Heather King whose comment at the top called "in cold blood" have less sense then a box of rocks.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  30. Silly you

    To those who are opposed to eating meat, I'm just wondering if you use soap? Most soaps contain lard, and yes, lard is animal fat that can only be obtained by killing a cow. Have you checked to make sure that your dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. is lard-free? How about your cheese? Did you know that an enzyme derrived from a cow's stomach is commonly used in cheese making. Yup. Ya gotta kill the cow to get the enzyme to make the cheese. How about the fertilizer that's used to grow your crops. You can bet that the fertilizer contains lots of cow poop. Animals help us survive. Yes, we must respect them and slaughter them humanely, but animal by products are everywhere.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Kim

      I'm sure they all spend a fortune at places like Whole Foods to buy animal-free EVERYTHING: soaps, shampoo, detergent, lotion, etc.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  31. Todd

    I don't have a dog in this hunt, only time I went to a 4-h center was for hockey, but no it cannot. Yes they at some point do kill the animals but after months of work and commitment. If anything there should be respect.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  32. Former 4-Her

    There's a fundamental error on which this article is based; it assumes that all 4-Hers sell their animals for slaughter when they're done raising and showing them. I was in 4-H for 12 years and not once did I sell one of my show animals. They were PETS and came back to the family farm to live out the rest of their lives in peace. I don't think it's right to assume that all 4-Hers are "desensitized" to killing because this particular 4-Her valued her show animals very much and treated them as her pets.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  33. Arwen

    It is important that kids (and adults) understand where their food comes from. People who eat meat should understand that an animal had to die so they could have food. People should also understand that the fruit or vegetables they eat are picked and tended by people who work long hard hours in the sun. This mentality that food just magically appears in stores contributes our over-indulgent culture.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  34. Zeoph

    Well see where do I start... I have lots of experience in 4-H from being in it all my life. I have even helped my dad teach vet science for kids. In a perfect world who wants to kill animals? No one i would presume but such as life. Feeding the billions on earth we need the protein this therefore we need to slaughter animals.(yes yes I know we can eat nuts and berries I am sure we can all just swicth right over without massive deaths but we saved a few cows!!!) As other posters mentioned it is not all about slaughtering animals there are just as much non animal programs involved in 4-H. For one I am starting a local astronomy club for 4-H kids. (I suppose some would say we are imposing on ET privacy) I have very rarely seen kids cry cause of there animal being sold at auction. If they are they might not have been educated on what happens to old betsy or porky when they are done. I am one of the most ardent animal lovers out there. 4-H teaches the care of animals. The people complaining the most of how bad 4-H is are probably Peta members or there followers at least. When you complain that cows have to wear diapers and what not you lose all credibility.(Somewhere I read that long while back.)

    If these skills are not taught then they will be lost. The knowledge and skill we have today is a result of people through the years raising animals for food or show or companionship. When the world gets to the point where we dont need to slaughter animals for food I will be the first to accept that. Be a 100 years or so

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  35. Buckeye

    What a bunch of crap. I was in 4-H, and I certainly was attached to the animals I raised. But I also can say that most of the kids raising animals in my county did so because they lived on the farms where the animals were raised. THEY took them to the slaughter house. The animals sold at auction were usually bought by companies that wanted their name out there for advertising. They would then sell the animal back to one of the farms in the area at market price, sometimes selling it right back to the family that raised it. The animals were in no way mistreated, and the kids learned valuable lessons about the whole process of feeding America. Throw into that the lessons about respect for animals and your community, giving your free time to help others, and so on, 4-H helps kids grow up to be responsible members of society, no matter if they continue farming or move out into the corporate world.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  36. Mac

    When my sister was in high school in Orange County California, she joined FFA and raised a pig, Wilburt. She and her fellow students knew from the very beginning that they were raising their animals for food – not as pets. In non-rural areas such as where we lived in Orange County, there is a disconnect. We knew the meat on our plates came from animals yet the process of raising the animal, caring for it, and then selling it to the butcher wasn't part of our everyday life. It wasn't until my sister's FFA experience that I understood the process and I was ok with it. One thing is for sure, my sister was not desensitized to killing animals. Even though she knew intellectually that she was raising her animal for food, emotionally she was sad when he was sold and butchered. For those who are omnivores and carnivores, it's a good thing that there are programs like 4-H and FFA to teach the future ranchers and farmers the proper way to grow food and raise animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  37. angrysmell

    if you fear 4-H is turning americas youth into killers, you are a moron. go get your kids, take them to the local police station, tell them youre an unfit parent and leave them there. why you are asking (presumably because you are the kind of idiot this comment is directed toward)? because there are 1,000,000 things that are worse for your children than teaching them responsibility through raising animals and showing them where their food comes from.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  38. neoritter

    For the Catholics out there:
    Catechism of the Catholic Church Sections 2415 – 2418:

    "2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.194 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.195

    2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.196 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

    2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.197 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice, if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

    2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons."

    Sounds like 4H is doing just fine to me.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • EatThemUpYum

      And for the vast majority of the world that doesn't care what the Catholic church says, the 4-H is still doing just fine.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
      • neoritter

        You're right (sort of). But you know 1.181 billion people in the world are Roman Catholic as of 2009. And 23.9% or 310,688,000 are Roman Catholic in the US.

        I posted it for two reasons, one the stated one, the people who are Roman Catholic and second because a moral viewpoint is being put forth by PETA. This is an opposing one.

        Also, I think anyone for 4H and it's practices can agree with the basic stance being put forth. Animals should be treated respectfully and not killed needlessly, but the needs and best interests of humans are above those of animals. So it's ok to kill an animal if you're feeding or clothing yourself or others, but it's not okay to kill them for sport or treat them cruelly.

        June 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  39. China is hell

    Do you remember the movie Event Horizon? China is like that evil spirit. We are under the evil spell, our cruelty knows no bounds.

    Please save us from ourselves. Please save yourselves from hell.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Yar

      I'm a conservative and even I think you're a crazy wacko, quit giving us reasonable republicans a bad name and go to your crazy conspiracy forums to spread these lies.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
      • as a representative of all political parties and world view

        you are a loon

        June 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  40. Denim

    PETA needs to get a clue. Really. Until we can grow meat w/o growing the corresponding animal, this is how it will be. Growing attached to a critter is one thing. Growing overly attached is quite another. Understanding that the critter WOULD NOT EXIST in the first place if we didn't have a purpose for it is basic to life: we eat to live. If you have an issue with the eating of tasty animals, I feel sorry for you, because it's not going to stop until there's a viable replacement. Vegans don't eat meat, but they DO eat things flavored like meat, then have the gall to say they have no interest in eating meat. They're crazy. So if meat will be eaten, and we have no way to create it other than by raising animals, then it's more an issue of how the animal is treated before it's slaughtered. Now THAT I could see improvements in.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • icyiluvu

      I don't disagree with you but as far as this goes "Understanding that the critter WOULD NOT EXIST in the first place if we didn't have a purpose for it is basic to life: we eat to live." Let’s take that a step further. I could create life that could be used for stem cells and fulfill a purpose of enhancing life for people but people would balk at that. People don't become smarter than pigs until after their 2nd birthday – we all have the basic desires, I am pretty sure I have dated guys that ended up being less intelligent than farm animals, if you take “G-d” out of it, would it really be that different?

      June 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  41. Michael

    The person who convinces me that a herd of cattle has more souls than a bowl of lima beans will convert me to a vegan. As it stands, I cannot understand why the life of a cow that has lived for two or more years is more precious than a lima bean which according to most standards is unborn. What makes the animal kingdom more sacred than the plant kingdom other than the fact that we are members of the animal kingdom?

    June 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  42. Claire

    I understand how some people might see that a child raising an animal for 4-H to show it and eventually sell it to be processed into food might seem a little cruel to the child. But as a former 4-H'er I can tell you that it is far from that. I would be lying if the first time I sold my calf at 9 years old at the County Fair that I didn't cry. I had spent a lot of time with Blackie over the past few months, but as my ever wise grandpa told me, this is the circle of life. Growing up on a livestock farm and participating in 4-H taught me not only the circle of life but also how respecting and caring for the animals that you have been intrusted to raise also provide for you. After ten years raising 4-H cattle and hogs, I was able to have a nice savings account to head off to college and pursue a career in the agriculture industry. I know that modern agriculture looks different than it did 50 years ago, but its still family farmers raising your food and teaching their children about protecting and caring for the environment and animals through programs like 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  43. Andrew

    Liberals are the most closed minded people I know, this article is a joke, all 4H kids I come across at the horse farm and the ones who attend the university I work at, are some of the most respectful and grounded human beings I have met, one more year and my kids will be old enough for 4H, I can't wait, from what I have seen in this area 4H really develops the character of the person, not just fattening up pigs

    June 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Michael

      I agree with everything you said except the first statement.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  44. icyiluvu

    Since so many are talking about factory farming instead of the 4H program – Wake up – the way we raise and slaughter the majority of animals in this country is harmful to us, we should be looking into vegetarian and vegan diets b/c we simply cannot sustain all of us eating as much meat as we do. We all rationally know that eating an animal that spendt its life shoved in a building with 5,000 others pumped full of anti-biotics and hormones is not a great idea.

    I agree with 4H b/c the animals have a nice life prior to their trip in the ring. I won't even say I disagree with eating meant, but It is redic how many people feel that animals should be raised and slaughtered for food, "period" What gives any of us the right to take another life so lightly? I am sure most of the meat we eat is in excess (we are not a thin nation) – that last hamburger you ate you probably didn't need to mourish your body, it probably just tasted good.

    What amuses me most is that the attacking of the veggies and vegans. A vegan doesn't give a crap that a lion eats a zebra – they were meant too. They are intelligent enought to know of the numerous health benfits that go along with taking oneself out of the factory farming and processed food cycle and finding protein from other sources. It's backed by science that that it lowers your risk of countless diseases and when is the last time you saw a fat vegan slob? It meat was so fab for us we would probably not be hairless pink beach apes and would probably be more adapted to catching and killing prey.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • jturgeon

      Doctors around the world claim that a strictly vegan/vegetarian lifestyle is unhealthy and unsustainable in itself for longevity of life. We need moderation, not cutting out meat from diets entirely. Lion eating the zebra; yes they are "supposed to", just as humans are designed to eat meat and non-meats in balance. You don't see lions setting up preserves for zebra and other animals. It's about survival. Again, the key word is MODERATION, not prohibition.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  45. Brad

    People are ridiculous. I was in 4-H for ten 5 years as a kid. They are still some of the best memories I had growing up. We had horse shows, raised other animals, and learned about agriculture. If anything we are way more environmentally conscious than some urban hippy who thinks we should just be in a padded room.

    Get a life and quit trying to espouse your views and change people to what you want. 4-H never bothered anyone and it is a great wayfor kids to grow and develop.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  46. Jen

    I spent 12+ years in 4H. The fair is a drop in the bucket of what we did and most of those animals never died. We get money for ribbons. All our animals were well taken care of and those who did sell for butcher were humanely killed at a local butcher shop NOT at some feed lot and not by the child. In 4H I helped rake elderlys' lawns and did community projects. We would sing carols at the nursing home and spend time appreciating nature. I counseled kids at camps and helped in land conservation. These writers have no clue as to what 4H is!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  47. Questions

    To all the people out there that believe that killing an animal to eat is wrong, how do you feel about the animals out there that kill to eat? Are they horrible creatures? Should they sit and reflect wether about eating meat or sit there and eat grass?

    This is just the way things are. Nothing is ever going to change about people eating meat. 4-H is an amazing program for kids growing up.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • icyiluvu

      If we are more intelligent than animals the burden to think about our actions lies only on us. The lion that just chowed down on a zebra has a very short intestinal system, it's stomach is more acidic, it has kick ass claws and teeth that can rip apart a carcass... we are different animals. A lion cannot survive eating plants, we can, a lion can chase down a zebra, we can't.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
      • jturgeon

        have you ever tried to feed a lion vegetables? Go ahead, try it, and report back. Anything can be kept alive on vegetables if you supplement the diet artificially. But, lions are designed as carnivores, just as humans are designed as OMNIVORES.

        "The animals are to stupid to realize it's wrong so it's okay". Right...

        June 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • Annoyed.

        I don't know about you, but I CAN NOT survive on plants alone.... Mmmm STEAK!!

        June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
      • EatThemUpYum

        I wonder what Lion tastes like...

        June 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Luke

      completely agree.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  48. mother of four

    I was fortunate enough to work for an extension office as a 4-H Associate for several years (leaving only when family had to take priority) and saw the benefits of 4-H first hand. It provides an excellent vehicle for family time as well as education for all involved. The kids I worked with were more "plugged in" than any other group of kids I've worked with (and there've been a lot). While most people think "livestock" when they think 4-H project, that isn't even half of what it does. They are always updating project areas, but the last time I looked it included photography, scrapbooking, horticulture, robotics, computers, architecture, economics, forestry, dog training, cat care, environmental science, archery, rifle/shot gun training, woodworking, arts and crafts (and this includes fine arts as well), welding, small engine repair, theater arts, sewing (and knitting, crocheting, etc), gardening, public speaking, character education, leadership training, etc. There's even a specialized project area for the kid who wants to do his own thing. I'm confident I left hundreds of project areas out (sorry 4-Hers).

    This program offers the opportunity for kids to develop record keeping skills and self discipline (learning that with hard work comes joy) . I was lucky enough to watch young people progress through the ranks–saw kids who were shy and awkward beforehand learn to stand in front of a room of people and demonstrate or give a speech concerning their project and gain a huge amount of confidence from it. Some of these kids went on to regional and state competitions. Many of these kids are now in college (I remain in touch with a few) and they attribute their confidence to the years they spent in 4-H.

    I will confess that as a non-farmer/animal lover I took this job with a lot of misgivings concerning livestock and how they were treated. What I learned was that animals that are cared for, that the kids develop a reporte with, show better. And those that aren't–well, trust me–the judges invariably spot it. I once heard a judge fuss at a kid who was being rough with his goat and was delighted when she took the time to lecture him (and those within earshot) on the "bigger picture" on being humane and what kind of product it yields.

    Yes–these animals are often food for someone in the end. But, to quote Temple Grandin, "If we're going to make food out of these animals anyway, shouldn't we make sure their lives are as comfortable as possible?" So the question is–who do you want in charge of our future farms–the kid who has heard a lecture like the one above? Or do you want another generation of farmers like the one we all saw the expose on recently? Remember the guy who encouraged his employees to abuse the calves in the name of saving the price of a bullet? I'll lay odds he wasn't a member of 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  49. Allah

    WHAT IDIOTS!!! try all the violent video games! U complete morons!!

    June 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  50. Luke

    this is the most liberal piece of propaganda i've seen in a while. i can't believe there are so many dagum tree huggers in America. farm animals aren't raised as pets. you never hear a farmer say he has 200 head of pets. grow a pair and stop acting like an overemotional, liberal-minded, uneducated female.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
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