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. someoneelse

    How many kids in 4-H clubs are going around killing others? How many kids from inner cities, slums, etc with no 4-H clubs? I suggest there is not quite as much of a correlation as they may think! I couldn't care less about 4-H clubs and have been in large cities all my life also.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  2. Jud

    I raised 2 calves, as well as chickens, and sheep with the 4-H in Georgia. And I can tell you from personal experience that you are not desensitized one bit. If anything, you come to have a much deeper understanding and respect for all life – even the smallest. You all but live and breath with these beautiful animals as you come to not only respect them, but work hard day in and day out to understand and work with them.

    Is there a practical side to the system – yes. But too many young kids have no attatchment to food. They have no idea what goes into their meat, nor any connection what so ever with the life each animal had. If anything, I came out of 4-H with a deeper understanding of life and what I put into my body.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Open your eyes

    If you don't like the killing of animals then in addition to not eating meat you should also not use: Explosive, Chewing Gum
    Saddle Soap
    Industrial Oil & Lubricants
    OLEO Margarine
    Shoe Creme
    Hand Soap
    Creams & Lotions
    Dish Soap
    Mink oil
    Tallow for Tanning
    OLEO Shortening
    Rubber Products
    Floor Wax
    Shaving Cream
    Biodegradable Detergents
    Protein Dog Food
    Protein Hair Conditioner & Shampoo
    Dog Food
    Chicken Feed
    Sausage Casings
    Instrument Strings
    Surgical sutures
    Tennis Racquet Strings
    Sports Equipment
    Hide Glue
    Paint & Plaster Binder
    Asphalt Binder
    Rug Pads
    Artist's Brushes
    Ointment Base
    Rouge Base
    Methane Gas
    Urea Fertilizer
    Combs & Toothbrushes
    Collagen Cold Cream
    Bone Meal Fertilizer
    Dog Biscuits
    Pet Food Ingredients
    Piano Keys
    Cellophane Wrap
    Cellophane Tape
    Bandage Strips
    Emery Boards & Cloth
    Neatsfoot Oil
    Bone Charcoal Pencils
    Ice Cream
    Bone China
    Steel Ball bearings
    Phonograph Records
    Gelatin Desserts
    Crochet Needles
    Syringes, Adhesive Tape
    Shampoo & Conditioner
    Collagen & Bone for Plastic Surgery
    Rose Food
    Wallpaper & Wall Paper Paste
    Photographic Film
    Gelatin Capsules
    beacuse they all have ingredients from cows. You're ignorance is mind blowing!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • wopboptorledo

      And you are proud of this because????????

      June 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Open your eyes

      Like the Bible says, God gave man dominion over the beast of the earth and fowls of the air and isn't it great that they can be used for so many things? Good stewardship of course but the animals are serving their intended purpose and blessing the lives of MAN.

      June 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Steve

    This whole argument that we should hunt our own food if we want to eat meat is outlandish. I could make the same argument for all services. Go generate your own electricity. Clean your own water. Empty your own septic tank. What difference does it make who shoots the cow in the head? The reason so many of us would have a hard time killing a cow today is simply because we haven't done so for centuries. It's been done for us for so long, that we've lost the "stomach" to kill our own food, thanks to major beef manufacturers who've been doing it for us. If you have issues with the MANNER in which beef is currently raised by major producers, that's a different argument. But providing food to people, whether it's beef, vegetables or otherwise, is a service like any other.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  5. NorCalMojo

    If PETA crusaders weren't such puritans and aimed for more reasonable reforms, we would have cleaned up the industry long ago. Americans would get behind a movement to treat our food better if it wasn't accompanied by all the hyperbole and accusations.

    When animal rights reformers are more interested in actual reform than feeling rightious and superior, things will change.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  6. MistiBean

    Really! Your way of thinking is going to turn these kids into whimpy, sensitive kids that wont be able to deal with lifes challenges in the future! Disgraceful!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  7. Rakwitiushbulbma Booga unhgowa

    I remember growing up as a child in NW ****** during the mid '50s. We raised EVERYTHING we ate. When papa went to the store, he would buy things such as black pepper, double colas (where has THAT drink gone?), sugar salt, etc. We literally raised everything else. We had chickens, cows, pigs, and some goats. Papa had a "smoke" house where we salted down a lot of pork; he also rubbed Sorghum syrup (which we also produced) and honey on the hams.

    He raised winter wheat (sold most of it, but had enough ground into flour to last a long time); he raised corn (used to feed the stock (and. . . to make whiskey!). Mama canned enough out of the garden that we were NEVER hungry. She also made pear and peach preserves, dried apples, and we had enough grapes, scuppernongs and muscadine to make a lot of jellies and preserves.

    Mama used lard to cook with. I have seen mama cook a pot of pinto beans with a "hunk" of fatback in them. Both mama and papa would eat that fatback.

    Mama lived to be 87; papa lived to be 80.

    I said all the above to state that when I was growing up, the policy at the dinner table (we called the noon meal "dinner") was TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. There was no alternative. We worked HARD making a living. We got up early, and went to bed early. This may sound like something out of an Amish movie, but believe me, it was HARD work.

    I cannot imagine turning down a steak or a piece of fried chicken. We often had fried chicken for breakfast. A cousin from a big city (which I will not mention) would come and stay a week with me every summer. He was fascinated about farm life, but did not like the hard work that went with it.

    We were glad to get anything. I can't imagine people being hungry and turning down meat. It's their precognitive, however, and I respect them for their belief, and I hope that they would respect mine!

    Have a blessed day!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  8. mosmarter

    Denial vs reality. Suppression of natural human instinct vs learning lifelong lessons. You make the choice. In my book, it is the height of responsibility to teach a child to humanely care for and raise a farm animal; to learn about economics and to wisely and fully use what God (Mother Nature for the "easily offended") has bestowed upon us. To do otherwise is to coddle the child and make him ill-equipped and too squeamish to handle life's less pleasant truths. Learning to be a good steward of our resources by providing for one's self and family is more admirable than pompously proclaiming superiority by aversion to eating meat. I'd rather have 4-H taught animal ranchers for neighbors than hypersensitive, holier-than-thou vegans. I know that I could count on them in times of trouble and not receive any excuses or sermons.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  9. Jen

    For the love of Pete and all that is holy, this is the most ridiculous article I've ever seen come from a reputable news source. What the h*ll?

    I grew up in 4-H. I partcipated in animal auctions. I sold my sheep throughout high school, which helped pay for my college tuituion. It was BY FAR, the best learning experience you can hope for.

    Whomever started these comments has no idea how our food system works. 4-H teaches animal husbandry, the correct way to raise animals, and it teaches about our food sources come from. Country kids are FAR BETTER GROUNDED in these terms. We have a better perspective of the order of live. We care for animals, but we understand that THEY ARE ANIMALS ... not humans. Have I ever cried over killing an animal. You bet. I learned that lesson at a very young age, but I'm thankful for it. I'm appreciative of animals. I am concerned about how they are kept and cared for because I KNOW how they get to my plate. I am for organic, pasture-raised, you name it. BUT I AM NOT DESENSITIZED. It's just part of life.

    Btw, I also hunt and fish. And I firmly believe that rural kids, who have these experiences, are better off. They are better stewarts of our natural resources, and they have a better understanding of our world.

    Of all the stupid things someone could print or say, this article has got to be one of them.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Shoegal

    I've often wondered how kids can raise their animals and then send them off to the slaughterhouse. There is some emotional disconnect there. We don't have to eat meat. Time to evolve and get away from the gotta eat red meat thinking.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  11. Former 4-H Leader in Oregon

    As meat eaters, I exposed my children to the humane "taking down" of a beef cow for food at ages 9 and 11, before we were involved with 4-H. They have a real life knowledge of where their food comes from besides a plastic wrapped container in the grocery store. At 15, my oldest helped our local butcher humanely take down, prepare and wrap, a 4-H fair pig which kept our family fed for several months. He is kind and compassionate toward all animals and all people, and understands the reality that some of our barn animals will be meals down the line. I just hope that those of you who don't understand the process do not eat meat products of any type, and don't condemn those of us who do – I don't condemn you for eating salads. In 4-H we also learned cooking, orienteering, leather work and art. Get some knowledge before you spout off so you know what you are talking about, please.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Mark

    Having once been a member of 4-H in rural Wisconsin, I can say that 4-H teaches many values about resposiblity. We were also taught to be respectfull of farm live stock. We need more progarms like 4-H to teach everyone just how humane we truly are to animals, and where there food comes from.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  13. Kermit

    We should kill and eat all the vegans and vegetarians and save the cows. The world will smell better (feces-covered cows smell better than you hippies) and be less annoying.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  14. Cricket

    I agree with Mom2. Video games "fantasize" death. Kids don't think it's real. You die, drop another quarter and get another life. Perhaps if they DID belong to a 4H club they would understand that death is permanent. They would actually know the difference between a video game and real life and understand that they are totally different.

    Remember the program "Scared Straight" where they took juvenile delinquents to a real prison to show them where they're headed if they continue with their little life of crime. Perhaps they should take them to a slaughter house as well so they can see up close and personal what death is really all about.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Cricket

      Just to clarify – I think 4H is a GOOD thing. It teaches many values and educates kids. It hurts to part with something or someone you love, but it's a fact of life. Kids today are too coddled. They need to understand the basics (like where food comes from) and how to deal with the ups AND the downs. Go 4H!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  15. MistiBean

    NO! Your gonna make kids so whimpy, and sensitive with this type of thinking! Dumb article!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  16. Thepoint

    I'm glad CNN posted this - it has raised quite a debate. It's heartening to read that people do care about animals, ranging from vegans to meat-eaters like Seriously who strive to treat the animals with respect. Obviously the article touched a nerve! By the way, I was in 4-H; I feel that it just taught me that an animal is a commodity. Maybe that's changed now, I don't know. However, iIt was confusing to me as a child and even now that some animals are for eating, others are for pets. I never understood why some animals didn't win the lottery and others did. Other cultures consider us crazy for not eating dogs. We, however, find the idea of eating a dog revolting. Interesting, isn't it?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  17. other999

    OMG you liberals make me sick! Here you are, trying to say that killing animals is such a hooorible thing. Seriously??? Mankind has raised and killed animals for food since the caveman days. Children have worked on family farms, helping to raise and kill animals since the DAWN OF TIME!! Please grow a backbone and at least TRY to be human. Your undying love for demonizing EVERYTHING has got to be a really pathetic way to live your life!!

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

      Hey, watch your tongue lady, I'm a liberal in many ways, and I think this is ridiculous. Why? Cause I'm sensible. Only a verrrry small minority of people feel like these jackasses, and I bet most of em wouldn't self-label as liberals.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  18. killig for meat: ok, unnecessary cruelty: probably mental issues

    'nother sensational article that attracts attention, good job raking in all that ad revenue CNN.
    and if people actually believe this crazy B.S., then they probably need therapy. lots and lots of therapy.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  19. Joe Mama

    LOL, vegetarian to the rescue! Classic liberal. I know what's best for everyone. I've achieved a higher level of consciousness than all of those stupid little people who run around like ants. I mean sure I run around like an ant too, but I'm different! Yeah. It just so happens that the one issue I'm passionate about is the one issue that defines what it is to truly be human. What a coincidence! Haha. Sorry folks, you're not different.

    But seriously though, glad to see there are still plenty of people just aching to see freedom die. Darn if only they'd pass a federal law so my views could be forced on everyone else! My opinion is more important that everyone else's!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  20. Whitney

    Great article, but Heather're ridiculous! "The 4-H" as she calls it doesn't get near the amount of publicity that it should, so I was surprised to see an article about 4-H on CNN. I was a 10 year 4-H member and those summers at the fair when I got to show the pigs that I had spent the last several months raising were some of the best times of my life. I grew up in a very rural area where all of my friends participated in 4-H as well. It was something we did together and it helped us to develop the relationships we have today. When I have kids you better believe they will be involved in 4-H and I hope they're able to raise animals as well. Kids in 4-H treat their animals with such care. I spent hours bathing, walking, feeding and spending time with my animals. Do you think the animals that produce most of the meat we purchase in grocery stores are treated that way? I became very attached to them and it was extremely difficult to have to let them go, but looking back on that now I don't think about how hard it was, I think about how much fun I did have with them when I was raising them. I think about my parents being there to help me during the fair. My dad would take that week off from work and we would hang out all week together at the fair. Even if I didn't show well, he would always tell me that I did a great job. Thank you CNN for this article, brings back so many great memories. Heather King and those like her...get a life.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  21. Tonlok

    Assuming that you have somehow trancended beyond the taking of a life to eat is elitist, and touting your beliefs on the matter makes you just as narcissistic as the religious/athiest nuts that always flood these message boards.
    You don't eat meat because you have the means to choose to deprive youself of nutrients required for your body to fully operate, good for you, welcome to America.
    You are vegan because you need a reason to exclaim to everyone how much better/smarter/cooler you are than them. Because those who eat meat are backward thinking, unrefined and I'm guessing you would take the leap to assume they are republican too.
    You are no different than any troll on this website. You are the hipster of

    June 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  22. anne

    What a friggin joke. You want to talk about desensitizing kids to killing, how bout all the TV shows and video crap games these kids watch hour after hour after hour every single day showing killing and raping people? Thats your problem, not 4H kids who are learning responsibility, who are learning where their food comes from, treating their animals with respect and care. If we stop raising a generations of responsible farmers, those video watching kids will have to eat their plastic casings from their video boxes.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  23. Sean

    Probably a PETA endorsed article. Go eat your lentil burger and tofu chicken.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  24. stir the pot

    I'll agree the 4H is biased but only because they will teach kids to raise all kinds of animals for meat but they will only teach them to raise horses for riding. What hypocrites! I'd like to have a yummy horse steak once in while without having to fly to Europe to get it.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • i eat meat

      I don't know about Horse, but I've got some squirrel and Rocky Mountain Oysters if you want.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Happy Vegan

      Why do you feel it necessary to bring that up, again?
      Meat is murder. It is as simple as that. You were born about 10000 years too late to still have a omnivorous mentality.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
      • ziggy

        You still have an omnivorous body, like it or not. Perhaps you should make some alterations there? But never fear, evolution will kick in eventually if Vegan mentality survives.

        June 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  25. Michelle

    I was a 4H'er. I grew up with lots of animals. I understood the difference between pets and ANIMALS. Even now I live on a cattle ranch and I teach my kids to NOT make pets out of the calves or ANY outdoor animals. We live on a ranch and one day you see an animal, the next you may not. Bottom line, when you have a cat or a dog those are long term animals. When you are raising pigs/cows/sheep, are you going to let them sleep at the bottom of your bed? This is ridiculous. If 4H'ers are raising their animals as pets, that's their leaders fault. NOT THE PROGRAM. The program is good and teaches a lot to kids who grow up in more rural communities. If I hadn't had the experience I did with animals, I wouldn't have fully understood the responsibility in raising a family. And as a single mother, it has proved to be a real life lesson.

    Where do people think food comes from? My drive to the corporate office where I work everyday from the ranch is through acres and acres of berry and lettuce fields. People breaking their backs in the hot sun, working every day of the week so there are fresh fruits and vegetables in stores and on tables around the world ... My family runs a free range cattle business. My children chase the calves and understand, one day these will be made into steak and hamburgers. It ridiculous to think that food "appears" places. This is why we are going to have a food shortage. Because people don't understand what it TAKES to HAVE food. My suggestion? Grow a garden, get a cow/pig/sheep and get back to roots. And get real.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  26. allison

    This argument is so stupid. I grew up on a farm and I was raising animals and knew they were for slaughter long before I joined 4-H. I then joined FFA in high school and did other leadership and learning projects. It all boils down to this- some people don't agree with eating meat and killing animals. It is for the individual to decide, those who grow up in farming communities have exposure to knowing where our food comes from, some participate in the life cycle, some decide it is not for them after they learn. These groups do not force "acceptance of killing" only education of where food comes from. Don't hate on organizations that are doing what people have been doing for centuries and adding education into the mix!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  27. other1

    Is this really an article? So many more important things going on in the world that people should be concerned with.

    Exactly the opposite. It erases the disconnection that most people have with where their food comes from. I was in 4-H, I honestly feel I am more empathetic towards animals now after witnessing the entire process. Needless to say the 4-H experience is much more humane for the animals than most stock yard / feed lot situations. My cousin payed his way through college based upon the money he earned at the auctions from his steers in 4-H. He is now a large animal veterinarian who also runs a dog rescue. His kids are in 4-H and love helping him run the dog rescue. The whole family was devastated when their family dog passed away this past spring.

    Yes, this is just one example, but this reminds me of the majority of people that I was lucky enough to cross paths with in my 11 years of 4-H involvement.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  28. Dennis

    The only people that could complain about 4-H is PETA, everyone else has to live in the real world.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  29. Alicia

    Contrary to desensitizing my children, 4-H or animal husbandry (the rearing and breeding of animals) has taught my 2 daughters (12 and 14) an increased respect and appreciation for the quallity of healthy life (and importance of a humane death) of these humble creatures who they care for over many months. Our animals certainly have a better experience than the mass produced feed-lot life of most meat produced. 4-H also teaches sound business principles, public speaking and leadership skills. We are fortunate to live on a farm near a city and host school children for tours of what farm life is. When I asked the kindergarteners how many had pets, none raised their hands. Sadly pets are a luxury to many living on limited budgets so the simple care and feeding of a creature depending on you is new to many. 4-H clubs are sadly missing from urban invironments and so participant population are alas not always representative of our changing national demographic. (Ironically, the 4-H headquarters is on Wisconsin Ave in DC.) 4-H clubs also exists in many other countries and tend to support local sustainable ag efforts (i.e. poultry and goats in Grenada). 4-H is a worthwhile and valuable organization whose role is only gaining importance globally.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  30. Levi

    The problem with vegetarians and vegans hating the american farmer is simply education. If i were to search "feedlot" on youtube or even google, all I am going to find is info or videos about a feedlot caught mistreating or "abusing" animals. Unfortunately, the good farms very get much airtime on Good Morning America, or even online. I am going to tape a video and post it online of my farm and my neibors farms where the cattle are treated to central air in the barns, as much hay as they want, and acres of open pastures. I have a degree in animal science and toured hundreds of feedlots and slaughter facilities in the last handful of years. These are set up to provide the people of this country with a QUALITY product in a HUMANE manner. I understand and respect the fact that PETA cares for the humane treatment of animals and livestock, FARMERS DO TOO! For every 1 farm that does something wrong and gets publicized for it, there are thousands doing things right and raising their kids the old fashion american way. 4-H was the best program I could have been a part of as a child, and I am still very involved in it as an adult. Raising and showing livestock educates our children more than anything in a way that I can tell most of you activists have not been educated.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  31. 4-H Pledge

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

    What can be bad about that?
    We say it right after the pledge of allegiance.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Mare

      As a former 4-H member...


      June 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  32. stejo

    Attention, everyone who read the headline and didn't read the article...THERE IS NO ARTICLE! This is a string of comments from people regarding another article. The headline merely reflects the feelings of one of the folks commenting on the previous article. Get over it and pass the A-1, please.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  33. Seriously

    "Anyone who kills animals should be ashamed. We need to stop killing animals inhumanely and start buying our meet from the grocery store where no animal is harmed." ~Someone from San Francisco

    This was a true quote from someone two years ago. I eat meat. I love meat. I raise my own animals and I kill my animals to eat them. In Pagan belief, you thank the animal for its life and allowing you to continue to live and not be hungry. If you can't stomach killing an animal or watching it be killed, you should not eat meat. If you think it is morally wrong to kill animals, then don't eat meat. But there is nothing wrong in teaching people, especially young people, to appreciate where their food comes from, what it eats on a daily basis and to respect the animal's life before it is taken away to be slaughtered. I have cried after killing three of my roosters, but it made me that much more appreciative when I was eating them for dinner. The only thing that is desensitizing is lying to ourselves that animals are never harmed and keeping ourselves from ever seeing it. Store-bought meat is only red because they add coloring to it. Real meat from a real cow is brownish-red. If you want to teach kids that store bought meat is where you get your food and where eggs come from, then you're in for a rude surprise when you find out how unhealthy that food really is for you. Store eggs can be anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 weeks old when you buy them, with an expiration date of another 3 weeks. Fresh, farm eggs will only last 3-4 weeks. Don't kid yourselves, the desensitizing is the other way around.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  34. svann

    The answer is that we SHOULD be desensitized to killing animals. We should be sensitive to suffering but killing for food should not make us squeamish. That's anti-survival.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  35. Russ

    As long as people eat meat, someone is going to raise the animals to be slaughtered. Better that the future animal farmers be educated responsibly by the 4H. I grew up in the country. Kids knew which animals were destined to be food and were taught not to become emotionally attached to them. On the other hand, every kid had their pets, usually a dog, cat, or horse.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  36. Jay Wedgeworth

    I don't understand why the responses are so polarized. Our choices are not living a vegan lifestyle or eating mistreated meat products for every meal of the day. I think that we should drastically reduce our meat intake so that food prices go down, food becomes more available, methane gas from animals is reduced (it harms the atmosphere), etc... The biological pyramid that you learn when you are in elementary school even explains the simple fact that each step in the food chain gets about 10% of the nutrients from the food it eats. So feeding cows grain provides us with less than 10% of the amount of food in return (way less actually, because the cow also burns energy and not all parts are edible). I'm not saying we shouldn't eat animals, but I am saying that there are plenty of reasons we should reduce our meat consumption (maybe to 1 meal per day instead of having meat be the majority of every meal we eat).

    June 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Alicia

      Hear, hear, well said.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • CattleJudge

      "or eating mistreated meat products"? Your argument went right out the window with that little statement. Mistreated? How am I going to make any money, let alone profits, if I "mistreat" an animal?

      Do you know how many times I have raised livestock and not made a dime.

      Don't talk about farmers or ranchers with your mouth full......

      June 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  37. twistedpuppet

    "How the meat industry stays in business" ? Really? Seriously? That has got to be the stupidest comment I have ever read. I feel dumber for having read it.

    Hey Heather King, eat me.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  38. CT

    It amazes me how a few PETA videos have convinced people that all animals are "tortured" at the slaughterhouse before they are killed and turned into food. Take a tour sometime. The pigs at modern processing plants are put to sleep in a CO2 chamber. In fact, a stressed pig releases hormones that diminish the quality of the meat. The plant I toured has a "no squeal" policy, where if the animlas are squealing, the guy who is handling them gets in serious trouble. This is the norm, not the exception, but PETA, the Humane Society, etc., always show the bad apples to keep the donations flowing.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • DaytonAlum2002

      I agree with you. I love the work that the Human Society does though, peta is another another thing. I think that sometimes people forget that we have a choice, if we want to eat meat, eat meat. If you don't, then don't.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  39. CattleJudge

    Back home in Indiana, a PETA group torched and burned a modern swine facility killing 2,500 that is impressive for their cause....

    I am a member of PETA...People Eating Tasty Animals....see you at my grill

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  40. Bosque

    4H desensitizes kids?? This reminds me of an OP ED piece in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE where the writer proclaimed: "Shame on all hunters! Why don't you buy your meat at the grocery store, where it's made?". Ignorance + arrogance = the new normal.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • stejo

      You realize that the headline is from a comment on another article? This isn't an op-ed – it's a string of comments. Lazy journalism, but hey, it is what it is.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • agm

      Isn't it scary how many people think that food comes from the back of the grocery store??? I also don't know why everyone thinks that farms are 'factory farms'??? Just because a farm is a corporation doesn't mean it is a factory farm. It is a corporation of family members that just wanted to protect thier liabilities and had to set up a business for tax issues. There are very FEW factory farms!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  41. 4-h is agriculture. Agriculture is neccessary for life.

    4-H is something that you will never understand until you have been a part of it. The only way for you to survive is support agriculture. Most people that run the agriculture industry were once a part of 4-H. You might say that you don't support agriculture, but everything from your fruit, milk, shoes, car tires, and toothpaste all have agriculture products in them. One lady mentioned below that killing animals is not neccessary on this planet. I want to know if she wears make up? If so then she is wearing dead animals on her face right now. Make up is made up of animal bi-products. 4-H is America's future!!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  42. NotForYou

    They are meat, food, burgers, sausages, the bottom of the food chain. We eat them. I don't care about their "life" before they are made into food.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  43. T3chsupport

    In my little home town, county fair was a big deal. We only had one grocer, and they bought a lot of the animals at fair. So for awhile after fair, whenever you'd go back to the store, over the top of the meat shelves would be a picture of the kid with his animal on the stall tag. Not only did everyone have to face where their meat came from, but they got to have that extra bit of appreciation for how their meal was raised, by someone who put a huge amount of time and care into it. It wasn't desensitization, it was accepting responsibility.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  44. ziggy

    @O –
    "So why do humans have incisors? to tear flesh. And why do humans have long intestinal tracks? To digest meats. and why do some humans have no brains? to help elect democrats." LOL – I couldn't agree more.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  45. Penny

    You know who's desensitized? Everyone who buys their meat at the grocery store without ever thinking about, or having to face, where it came from. How many of you let your kids watch violent movies, play violent video games, and yet complain about 4-H? Reality, people, is that your favorite burger started life as a cute little calf . . . that somebody had to raise and slaughter.

    Thepoint: Our molars and jaw muscles/muscle attachments are tiny, tiny compared to those of true herbivores. Looked at a gorilla skull lately? Huge muscle attachments. We're obviously not meant to live on large quantities of plant material–especially raw, fibrous, plant material–either.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  46. Montana Dreamer

    4H is a responsible and respected program inwhich young people can learn to raise an animal properly and then sell it for a profit, to which most kids apply to their future education. Whether you raise it or hunt it, you know what you are eating and it's better for you than feed lot animals. We raised our own animals and they were treated as part of the family, then it was time for them to feed the family. Teach your children to raise animals, hunt and fish and you won't have to worry about where their next meal will come from.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  47. NRS

    i wish all animals can talk and take revenge on meat eaters family some day, atleast then thier brains may behave more humanly... when there is a choice choose a better life...... be kind to animals....

    June 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • momomiester

      I hope you get eaten by an animal. That would be hilariously ironic.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • I eat meat@NRS

      And then you shall die. All the animals that we "NORMAL" people eat will start eating your veggies, and you will starve to death. True poetic justice.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
      • NRS

        i guess that speaks to itself.... Nature has enough to feed humans and Animals and not for greedy and brain dead animal eaters... This sounds hilarious for stone hearts... not for NORMAL humans.. .. evolve man evolve.. dont get stuck in petra age...

        June 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  48. Concerned Advocate for Teaching Youth About ANIMAL Agriculture

    If the bleeding hearts who promote animal rights would spend there time constructively, we could prosper as a society. Rather they are critical and demeaning toward their own specie about what they eat and what lifestyle they choose. The grass routes of this country is based on Agriculture and the Youth that are involved in youth based agriculture programs are going to feed and care for us in the future. Yes, 4-H and FFA teach life skills and of all the other youth organizations that i have been involved in/with 4-H and FFA made me the person that i am today. A good citizen in the community who is productive and has compassion and cares for others in the community. I eat meat and no matter what anyone says i will continue to do so. We are designed to do that. If you want to eat plants as the main course by all means. I prefer to look at those as a side dish. As far as what 4-H teaches! Animal Care and management is foremost. But more importantly it is the journey to the fair! The life lessons for caring for another creature and to learn that the animal will serve a purpose. Nourishment! If you have a problem with it eat your greens but don't expect level headed consumers who are smart enough not to listen to Opra or Ellen about there Vegan Diets to stop eating meat.

    I tend to think most people are smart. However, when it comes to those that dictate Sexual Orientation as a Choice, Critics on Abortion, Vegetarianism, Vegan, Animals have Rights, Judgmental Religious Groups, (the list goes on), I say back off of your soap box and be a constructive member of society. There is more graphic information that comes from the Humane Society and PETA which is staged exploiting the animals that they are trying to protect.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  49. Al

    4H promotes agriculture. In any case, most kids older than toddlers know where meat comes from. About the only thing I might fault 4H for is giving the impression that most livestock are humanely raised. Livestock raised by these kids have a pretty cushy life compared to the grim existence that most livestock live on large scale factory farms, feed lots, and slaughter houses. Most of the meat we eat comes from very badly treated livestock because everyone wants the cheapest food they can get and the only goal of large agribusiness is to make profits.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  50. Karen

    Animals are placed on this earth for people. Yes we respect them, but we also eat some of them. My grandfather was a diary farmer. He raised chickens, pigs, steers, calves for food. The were killed humanly. Kids should be taught that this is part of life. I do not believe in protecting kids from this type of reality. I was taught at an early age that animals are killed for food and so were my kids. It is life people. Wake up. Animals are not human. They are animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
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