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. dave

    people who refuse to eat meat for "ethical" reasons are a tiny minority of weirdos. Why do we have to read stuff from their point of view.

    Where are the stories from the point of view of people who think the world is flat or man should not fly or that skin color has some moral value

    June 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Sarah

    This article is so dumb, there is nothing wrong with having children involved in the process of the meat market. It's better that children understand that their meat was a life so they better respect the animal's sacrifice rather than having them eat meat without thinking twice about where it came from.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Ridge

    What a stupid claim. I bet 4-H kids are guilty of a lot less homicides than thugs from the ghettos. Where do they learn their killing from?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  4. KSRanchGirl

    It amazes me how many people will attack a way of life, or organization. I will try to make my point without doing so. I believe that every human has the right to choose what they do or don’t believe. However, that being said, it does upset me when someone attacks my way of life. I am disappointed to see that as adults expressing opinions, several have been unable to do so without name calling and brutal attacks to personal thoughts. I was in 4-H for several years. While a 4-H member, I learned to be a productive member of society, to contribute to my community and to respect the livelihood of others. I did raise market beef and showed horses. I understood from a young age that my calves were someday going to end up on someone’s plate. For that reason, they received excellent care. After all, this was our food supply. I do not feel like I am desensitized by this reality at all. I have a great respect for life and death. I still raise cattle to supply the meat eating individuals of our world with a wholesome food product. If you have never sat on a horse in a blinding snow storm to make sure that your herd will be okay, then you do not have any right to tell me that I do not care for my animals. The weather they endure, I endure. They are raised for food. That is a fact. It is important to me that these animals still get proper care and handling until they are harvested. That is why I am intimately involved in the industry. Thank you, 4-H, for helping me to learn the valuable lesson of being a good steward of land and life. I think that a lot more kids could stand to learn the lessons that I did.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • CattleJudge

      Well said......hats off to you.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
      • Annoyed.

        Great comment!

        June 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • skeeteril

      Excellent points KCRanchGirl.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Bill

    Born and raised in the country, growing up we learned these skills without the 4-H program. I am assuming all the people that are complaing about this program, and the slaughering of animals are vegitarians. I am also assuming that they do not use any animal products, such as leather shoes, leather couches, leather car seats etc.. If more people actually had to raise their own food, and kill their own animals for food....they would have much more respect from where our food comes from and this country wouldn't have such an issue with weight control. Todays youth has no idea where their food comes from, other than a fastfood restaraunt or grocery store.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  6. Jeremy

    4-H isnt the problem, parenting is the problem. It is ashame that we take a great program like 4-H and say 4-H is what is the problem; I bet that these kids in 4-H will turn out to be a much better person than the majority of the people who's parents keep them in a bubble. Life and death is a part of living... and by the way, 4-H is much more than just animals!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    I am very much a carnivore, omnivore actually, as our bodies are designed to be, and i have no problem with the food chain. I do, however, have a serious problem with the way our food animals are treated before they are slaughtered. there are humane ways to treat cattle, pigs, and chickens that makes them healthier and, in turn, makes us healthier. people do need to stop thinking of and treating animals as things. they are beings with a right to a decent life. but everything, including some plants, kills to eat. that is the nature of life on this planet. children should be tought to respect animals and thank them for what they give us. and above all, they should be tought not to kill for fun or sport. nothing sickens me more than seeing a kid posing proudly with his first buck! unless you cannot afford to go to the market and buy meat, you are killing for fun, which is a true abomination.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • dave

      horrible that an animal might be shot to death when it should be eaten alive or starve as God intended

      June 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • rodeomom

      you are kidding right? I ake PRIDE in my hunting. ONE SHOT. I took my 11 yr old daughter hutning this past yr, after she passed her hunters safety. SHe TOOK ONE shot, helped gut the deer out,a nd then PROUDLY got her picture taken beside that deer. So did myself when i took my first buck.,
      To say that if you can't afford to go and buy your meat, is STUPID. Guess what its MORE expensive to buy a hunting LIC. then a deer tag, then a gun, then the shells, to go out and hunt for that deer. Your meat costs what 5 bucks for a pound or so. ONE deer will feed my family for 3 months and it only costs me the tag and the lic to go out and hunt it.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Former 4-H Leader in Oregon

      Liz – you should take a Hunter's Safety class. Being from the suburbs, I didn't understand hunting and was pretty much against it. But taking the class I learned that many animals would die slow, agonizing deaths through the winter becausde of the lack of available food sources. In order to keep herd sizes to a number that the land can actually sustain, hunting tags are issued. There are rules on what type of animal can be taken... (not Bambi or his mother). Because I now live in a rural area, many of my friends hunt to sustain their families. Get some knowledge and then you'll have an informed opinion.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    This is sad. Very much like the article I read a while back – some urban children were asked where milk came from, and they replied, "The store."

    For all of you who are SO concerned about these poor, desensitized children: Do you personally mourn the many animals who have died to support your lifestyle? Even you "vegans" are indirectly responsible for the loss of thousands of animal lives.

    Do you drive a car? Look up mining, manufacturing, average roadkill (right down to those bugs that get squashed on your windshield, they're alive too). If you don't use a car, do you use mass transportation? Heck, even a bicycle has caused many animal deaths. If you've ever used any sort of mechanical transportation, YOU are also responsible for those deaths.

    Do you own a home? Or live in a home? Or an apartment? Look up manufacturing, home building, etc. Many animals died so that YOU can live in comfort. And I won't even go into the furniture and other accouterments of your daily life. Thousands more animals dead, for you.

    You obviously use a computer, and the internet. There's more animals dead. Look up how they make computers, where they get the materials from, what they do to animals in laying down internet lines and what they use to keep animals from chewing on those lines.

    I could go on and on – NOBODY is innocent of animal deaths and suffering. Nobody. It is part of the natural world. Even out in nature – you think animals don't kill each other?

    We cannot separate ourselves from nature. But sobbing crocodile tears over the death of some food animals while blithely ignoring your own responsibility is PATHETIC.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Annoyed.

      Well put!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  9. Dina

    No one FORCES any 4-H kids to take an animal project where the animal is slaughtered. 4-H kids (and they have to be 8 or 9 to take any type of project at all) have their choice of a huge selection of 4-H projects in a wide variety of topics. I know kids who take market animals (knowing they will be slaughtered),I know kids who take show animals (knowing they will not be slaughtered), and I know kids who take projects that have nothing to do with farm animals.

    And even before become 4-H members, I taught my kids that meat is from an animal. A hamburger was a cow, bacon was a pig, and I didn't to it to desensitize my kids and make them future mass murderers. I did it so they know the truth of where their food comes from – and that is not Walmart.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  10. CattleJudge

    Every year we give away one 1200 pound fat calf, have it processed by a processor who is USDA inspected and donates his time and we give all the meat to the Food Bank.....that is what I learned in 4-H....how to give back to the community.

    I guess I was taught wrong.....

    June 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Programmr

      You were taught well. All kids ought to know where their food comes from. Farmers are the very foundation of our entire food supply. Without them, most people on this planet would starve because they litterally don't know how to feed themselves.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  11. JamesonK

    According to the FAO 925 million people dont have enough food to eat right now. The World Health Organization says that starvation is still the single "gravest threat to the world's public health". NOT IN AMERICA THOUGH, so we have these fools trying to tell us we shouldn't teach our kids that killing cows is ok.... Almost a billion people starving to death at your feet and your of the opinion we should stop killing animals for food??? I do consider myself a liberal on most issues, but this is just ridiculous, I'm shocked theres even a "discussion" about it.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  12. Random 4-H Supporter

    I find it interesting how the photo depicted at the top shows a dairy cow. One that is not normally used to produce milk and not slaughtered for meat consumption.

    Thanks to those who have posted positively in favor of 4-H.

    The 4-H motto is: To Make the Best Better.
    I believe that it has been shown here by those who have commented.

    The 4-H Slogan is: Learning by Doing
    I hope that those 4-Hers who read this, will turn this into a learning opportunity. All of us can learn from each other, and hopefully we can appreciate our differences of opinions and get past the blame and judgement. This comment board is a great example of how important education is on both sides of the points being discussed. I would love to have a formal debate about this with the commenter in person.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Steve

    How utterly stupid. 4-H is about teaching young farmers of the future. If you raise animals for food you have to realize they're going to be killed and be okay with that. I grew up on a farm and helped slaughter pigs, chickens, sheep, etc. 100 years ago the majority of families in America were home farmers. We've turned into a nation of namby pamby sissies that can't hack it. How pathetic.

    Humans evolved intelligence by HUNTING. It doesn't take any brains to sneak up on a leaf. Stop all this whining about eating meat and go get yourself a big steak. What a bunch of pathetic, loser, sissyfied, laimo wussies.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  14. skeeteril

    Another dumbing down of the populace with such crap articles. Honestly, WTF are you media whores trying to prove with your nonsensical BS writing????? Don't eat meat? FINE! Don't want to slaughter? FINE! Take care of yourself, and don't forget to see how the government is eating YOU.

    It is tough being at the top of the food chain. Get over it and quit crying.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  15. Brian

    Sometimes I feel I've been asleep for 30 years, and when I woke up, the world got stupider. If that's a word. I grew up in the country and people knew where meat came from. These days kids just don't know. It's kinda scary. Really.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  16. Thepoint

    Kansas Cowgirl,
    Thank you for your opinion, but that's your reality, not mine. And truly, 4-H has NOTHING to do with the reality of how animals are raised and slaughtered today. But I'm glad to hear that 4-H does teach responsibility and that the organization has some good points too.
    Agm,
    Not everyone objects to slaughter, but to the animals' lives before and during slaughter. Today's farming - the kind that puts meat in the fridge at the grocer - has nothing to do with the circle of life. It's a total negation of it. See post from Former Meat Eater for a better explanation.
    And I'm not saying anyone should be a vegan or vegetarian. Just please educate yourself about how we now farm meat.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Former Meat Eater

    4H isn't the problem. The real issue here is that the entire country is totally removed from the mutilation and abuse that occurs every day in factory farms. At the very least we should hold our position at the top of the food chain with some level of morality and/or respect for the life of the animals which sustain us!
    If the moral argument doesn't persuade perhaps the importance of your health will? Animal husbandry has turned into a giant science project with more hormones and antibiotics being pumped into your food every single day. Just don't complain when you are dying of cancer and bemoaning the fact that you never once smoked a single cigarette. I will be around to remind you of all the chemicals and poison you consumed while selfishly downing filet mignon or scarfing "chicken" nuggets. Bottom line is that if animals are raised humanely and in suitable environments/space for their "happiness" the level of hormone and antibiotic would not be necessary; but raising animals the right way for food just wouldn't be profitable now would it? Wake up America. you are all sheep led by big industry. Use your brains and stop believing the crap that big meat companies are shoveling on top of you. I for one gave up meat 6 years ago not b/c I believe the raising of animals for food is wrong but b/c the way we allow it be carried out is VERY wrong.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  18. Moto

    I raised sheep, then hogs for 4-H for 8 years (all sold at auction) along with all 5 of my brothers. I learned commitment to responsibility even when it's inconvenient like cleaning up after my hogs/sheep, like feeding them when it was raining, snowing, and freezing, like fixing their water-lines even when I had other things I wanted to do, like having to be home on time to feed them no matter how cool an event was happening. I think being obligated to their care was good training for parenting frankly. I also learned how to be comfortable working in front of an audience performing in showmanship and market class at fair, I took my first trip away from home with 4-H to state fair, stayed in my first dormitory, learned to present material to my fellow 4-Hers and made friends I otherwise would not have. I also earned a 4 year scholarship that helped pay for my college education. I also learned that when you send a thank you letter for that scholarship check, the scholarship amount increases each year. I made money selling my animals and started my first savings account with with funds from selling a sheep at auction, I still remember it was making 5%, sure wish I'd have kept that account now! I learned to manage my money wisely and choose my investments. I learned the limit of my dollar. I learned to calculate the amount of food my animals required, purchase it, and later learned to fill out a tax form with deductions for expenses like feed, equipment, travel to shows, etc. My what a terrible organization they were indeed! I learned to love and appreciate animals, and the value of caring for them rightly not only from 4-H but my family and my community. My wife and I take excellent, loving care of our 2 pets. I actually offered to sell my motorcycle last year when my dog was sick and we thought she might need surgery. Thankfully she didn't

    That said, what I didn't learn ANYWHERE is that animals are HUMANS and that killing an animal is the same as murder, or that eating an animal is a crime. I didn't learn that it's okay to take a post-modern trend life-style and assume that the other 99.9999% of all humans in history and the other 98% of people currently inhabiting the planet were all desperately mistaken and that somehow this new tiny minority who just appeared on the scene suddenly have the 'corner market' on morality and ethics for all time. What an indulgent thought! I believe in heaven, hell, sin, and eating animals. God killed the first animal to make clothes, I'll take my cue from Him, not some late-stage self-indulgent, arrogant know-it-all's screaming loud and making life difficult for average people without cause. No I don't think that ALL treatment of animals produced for food is ethical (or safe) for human consumption, no I dont "enjoy" the killing of animals, yes I think it's wasteful to kill an animal JUST for it's hide. Yes, I hunt for my own food and grew up on healthy, range fed, game meat. Yes, I know that every time I kill a deer, I'm preventing a needless car accident that could take not only a deer's life, but human lives as well. Every time I drive by a dead deer on the side of the road I think ... some careless person trying to save animals restricted the amount of hunting licenses again. I drove by 10-15 of those in the last 2 months. (That's raising my insurance rates, and yours by the way)! I stopped recently for an 70yr old lady who I watched hit a deer on Rt 80 going 70 miles an hour. The deer cartwheeled 45 feet in the air and landed on the side of the road bleating and bleeding out with broken mangled legs as it breathed its last. The woman had air-bag deployment and totaled her car. Thankfully she was otherwise okay. Guess that was another "victory" for people who think the idea of "population control" in a state where all the natural predators were killed off ages are is "stupid" and where the responsible humane killing of animals for food is "wrong" . I'm pretty sure this is the same people who said it was "natural" to let the Yellowstone fires burn in 88 and watched it go until the fires were so huge they jumped 1/2 mile fire-breaks. (They still had people out there fighting it with pick-axes and shovels for MONTHS because God forbid they tear up a little ground with a bulldozer.) Good think that 'natural fire' sterilized 1000's of acres that wont grow anything for centuries. Yeah...there's really a new corner market on intelligence that's finally graced our planet. As for me, I think my local park looks nicer when we tend to it by cutting out the parts that don't belong and properly maintaining the parts that do. I also think that donating game meat to the local shelter that was processed in a clean packing plant will save my friend a car accident, will feed some people who can't afford healthy meat themselves, and will ensure that my deer died with a human single shot, not dangling through the shattered windshield of someones Jeep Cherokee. My .02, worth all the paper it's printed on.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • skeeteril

      Nicely written Moto.
      Thanks.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  19. Randall

    The real problem is the evolving ignorance of people in the basic facts of sustenance and survival. As someone who was raised on a small Midwest farm, I had the honor of learning firsthand the value of the earth and every life. And I learned firsthand how to kill a chicken and dress it for cooking. I had the honor of having $H as part of my growth and education. We raised our own hogs and cattle for slaughter. Trust me, I have an understanding and respect for life, all life, that no blindly liberal vegan could or will ever have. I am appalled that we are raising generations that have no idea of where the food that sustains them comes from.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  20. Liz

    To "Kathy" who said these "poor animals are raised as pets" before being sent to the slaughterhouse–they are raised as livestock, they are not household pets. That doesn't mean that there is no emotional attachment–of course there is! But it also teaching children to be responsible and work hard, which they do when they get up every morning to feed the animal before school, and clean, feed, and water the pen after school.

    I was in 4-H for many years after moving from Los Angeles as a child, and I did raise a pig one year, and was devastated when I auctioned it off and sent it to slaughter–so devastated that I never raised one again. However, these animals have a good life being raised by a 4-H-er and would otherwise have lived the course of its life on a large factory farm, meeting the same end.

    Those who have never participated in 4-H really shouldn't comment on what it does or does not do to kids and should realize that these animals would be feed animals whether raised by a 4-H-her or not.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  21. 4H Alum

    4-H is an amazing program! I was a 10 year member and have used the skills gained through 4-H to start my own bakery decorating cakes and making yummy desserts. I also showed hogs and yes, sold them to market after the fair. It's all part of the circle of life.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  22. Kevin F

    There is a dearth of understanding about agriculture and the economics of eating in this country. The first clue in this article is a photo of dairy cattle used in an article about meat production. Additionally, why do we have to suppose that the method used to kill meat animals is less humane than natural death? Most wild animals die from predation, starvation due to tooth loss, disease, or injury. In America, our livestock are rendered unconscious and allowed to bleed out before awakening. It appears some people have been desensitized to reason.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  23. Neil C.

    4-H desensitizes children? I can't help but laugh. It is quite hilarious that one of the best student organizations is now facing such ridiculous claims. Would you rather lead every child to believe their food source actually comes from just a grocery store. Ask a child where his/her food comes from and 80% of them couldn't even explain on the simplest of levels where that hamburger came from. Most responses...."Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Fresh Market..." The other 20% are found within the families that put food on each and every one of YOUR tables and clothes on your back, that made themselves smarter by real world experiences within organizations like 4H and the National FFA Organization(which by the way is the LARGEST STUDENT lead organization in the world). Organizations that teach TRUTH, HARD WORK, and DESIRE TO HELP YOUR FELLOW MAN.

    I served in many leadership roles within the National FFA Organization and cherished every single moment I was able to portray truth and honestly to children across North Carolina. Many may think these groups are all about tractors and hogs...many of those people have never divulged into the real purpose of the organizations. To give our youth an honest and beneficial education with hands on learning and development of personal success. I can speak for hundreds, if not thousands, of young people who have in my presence praised that organizations like this were a MAJOR factor in their successes. I know in my life college was out of my reach, not academically, but financially. My family was as poor as they come. Teachers, supporters, leaders in these organizations paved the way for me to further my education. Most of which never even glanced at my face, but went to bat for me...and would do it for any other young person in the same situation. I praise the work these groups do for our young people and will continue to support them 100%.

    “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – – -Galileo Galilei

    June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  24. ctelles

    being in 4-H is like being a farmer or pet owner, you actually appreciate life more and understand where our food comes from. 4-H provides an education that McDonald's and other fast food chains dont: that we need to appreciate the food we eat.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  25. Pussification of America

    Where do people think meat comes from? Desensitize? Doesn't the media, movies, video games, rap music, and all that other bullcrap already do that? Does America want our children to be wimps, and cowards in the eyes of the world? Who ever wrote this article is a spineless wimp trying to goad people into becoming one just like them. What happens if the world economy fails and all of a sudden there is no food at Walmart? Are you going to be too pussified to go hunt meat for your own family? Grow up, and wake up America.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Kim

      Most members of our society already are. We have bleeding hearts to thank for that.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  26. Mr. Hanh

    Was never a part of 4-H, but I did see them at every county fair and went over to pet the animals. They seemed content and friendly as if they weren't being abused.

    I think that its all okay if you make it clear to the kids from the beginning that these animals will be slaughtered at some point. Its not cruel that we eat meat, but that we should keep them in convenient comfort from birth till their untimely demise. I just find that 4-H is really for kids who will probably have a career in livestock or for kids who live in close proximity to livestock. Livestock are commodities, but at the same time, living conscious animals. The level of intelligence is irrelevent once the threshold of being able to suffer is crossed. The arguments of eating meat in general being cruel has no place here. What is of concern is whether they aren't making it clear why these animals are even being cared for for the sake of eating, and the practices and treatment from birth till slaughter.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  27. Observer

    Every vegan I know is a complete retard. And a liberal, though that is redundant.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  28. Tina R

    Give me a break, you obviously didn't take the time to talk to any kids that have been in 4-H for years and love it ! I was a 10 year member of 4-H and so were both of my sisters. Now my niece and nephews are in 4-H and showing hogs, calves and rabbits. I am sure their children will continue the tradition. To say that you don't get an emotional attachment to the animals is a bunch of crap. You do but as a farm kid you realize that this is how Americans are fed along with the grain that the farmers harvest. 4-H is not about desensitizing kids about animal killing. It is about responsibliity for your projects, community involvement and fond lifetime memories. Before you decide to write about something you need to educate yourself.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  29. CattleJudge

    I am amazed CNN would even reference a link to this article (yeah right)...... :)

    Getting ready to fire up the grill....can't decide on Rib Eyes or thick cut Pork Chops? Decisions, decisions......

    June 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • I eat meat

      I say go for the bacon wrapped steak. Or bacon wrapped chops are good too. bacon wrapped anything.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  30. Thief

    i don't read comments, but they're a lot of fun to write!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  31. Mike Sterling

    Dear God, we really are becoming the biggest pansies on the face of the planet.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  32. Aloisae

    If you are looking to what desensitizes children to killing and the suffering of livestock animals, it would more likely be the disassociation between the food on the plate or in the store and the animals from which it comes common in the majority in the US population because they did NOT participate in something like 4-H and never had any contact with animals we typically use for food. The people I participated in 4-H with had a greater respect for animals.. and the hard work and resources that go into producing food in general... than most of the urban raised people I know.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  33. agm

    To comment on why some kids cry at animal auctions as stated in your article, it is because of the attachment that has been made during the course of the animal project. When the kids spend time everyday with their animal project, of course they are going to get attached. My daughter was very attached to her pigs but that did not mean they were not going to be slaughtered at some point and time. That is the tourble with some people, they think the natural circle of life doesn't include slaughter but those same people sure do like to eat!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  34. Kansas Cowgirl

    You know some people just have too much time on their hands and minds. Information gathering before commenting is often a good action for all of us. These animals do need to be treated humanely and it does not "desensitize" any 4-H member to raise animals and care for them. It does however, equip them for reality in life. Not that something "has" to die but that we have responsibilities to ourselves and our families. Actually, these kids learn more about giving back and being a responsible community member than just about any other organization other than Scouting. I was raised on a farm and rode stick horses and later real horses and yes, I packed iron on my hip. If I had ever done that in any fashion other than a toy to play with my father would have dealt with me properly. I did not grow up in violence and therefore I am not violent. Like the rest of you I do have strong opinions about some things. America is about us all having that right.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  35. 4-Her

    This article is ridiculous. I grew up on a farm and ranch, appreciating both animals (meat) and vegetables. In addition, I was in 4-H where I learned how to care for animals, sew, and bake. Of all the things that I learned in 4-H the most important thing was compassion for the world and having appreciation for all things. With the knowledge that I gained from 4-H I understand that everything has its place in the world.

    Secondly! I absolutely cannot stand people crying for animal rights and pointing fingers telling others that eat meat they are insensitive when they have never been to a ranch or a farm or anything close to it. Personally I am disappointed that this article even made it to the light of day.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  36. Former Meat Eater

    4H isn't the problem. The real issue here is that the entire country is totally removed from the mutilation and abuse that occurs every day in factory farms. At the very least we should hold our position at the top of the food chain with some level of morality and/or respect for the life of the animals which sustain us!
    If the moral argument doesn't persuade perhaps the importance of your health will? Animal husbandry has turned into a giant science project with more hormones and antibiotics being pumped into your food every single day. Just don't complain when you are dying of cancer and bemoaning the fact that you never once smoked a single cigarette. I will be around to remind you of all the chemicals and poison you consumed while selfishly downing filet mignon or scarfing "chicken" nuggets. Botom line is that if animals are raised humanely and in suitable environments/space for thier "happiness" the level of hormone and antibiotic would not be neccessary; but raising animals the right way for food just wouldn't be profitable now would it? Wake up America. you are all sheep led by big industry. Use your brains and stop believeing the crap that big meat companies are shoveling on top of you. I for one gave up meat 6 years ago not b/c I believe the raising of animals for food is wrong but b/c the way we allow it be carried out is VERY wrong

    June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  37. Belarius Marek

    Ummm... It teaches responsibility and how to care for another living being. The world is truly coming to an end. And not fast enough for me.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  38. john

    What a bunch of nonsense.

    Ever scrape the dead bugs off of a vegan's windshield? They hem and haw and deny that it is the same thing they're complaining about here.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  39. Biff

    This article is written in the same way conspiracy articles are written – to attempt to sway people into believing someone else's contorted perspective on life. That's right, 4-H is breeding cold blooded killers. What a load of BS.

    If anything, it's important for all people to learn where their meat comes from. It's up to the individual to determine if this is acceptable or not. If you kill your own meat, you develop more respect for it, that's for sure.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  40. Thepoint

    Sorry, MistiBean, I think sensitivity in a child is a good thing, LOL! It's a characteristic that can be equated with strength, not wimpiness. Kermit, sorry, dude, or girl, I'm not a hippy, just someone who's concerned about our society's treatment of animals. Mark, if 4-H also includes information about industrial farming (chickens crammed in tiny crates, brooding sows who don't even have enough room to turn over), I'd feel better about it. Unfortunately, we don't live in the idealized world of smaller farming, where animals can be raised and slaughtered with kindness/dignity. A child raising their own calf isn't getting the true picture of how it works in agri-business today. Again, not talking about smaller farms, but big farm business, which is where most people buy their beef, so to speak. The treatment of animals in those types of so-called "farms" is sickening.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  41. Ryan in Michigan

    This article has so many points wrong in it (as do many commenters). First off, it doesn't desensitize the killing of animals for food, which really wouldn't be all that bad of an idea anyway. Children have partaken in the killing of animals for food for centuries and centuries. How else will the family butcher the meat it needs for food? The elder children were the ones who helped.
    Secondly, not all these animals are to be killed. The sheep will often be bought for their wool, which they will produce for many years. The goats and cows are often bought for their milk. A good bull can bring about calves at a local farm. Chickens, ducks, and geese bring eggs and more chickens, ducks, and geese. They also raise kittens and puppies to be farm animals (barn cats and herding dogs) or pets, as well as pocket pets. The point is to teach children how to raise animals properly, not desensitize them.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  42. Thief

    I don't get it. Killing animals for food seems fine to me.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  43. Conrad Shull

    Ever notice PETA types like to throw fake blood on society ladies wearing fur, but never on bikers wearing leather. As for the anti-4Hers; ignore them. It's a waste of time arguing with twits.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  44. Seriously???

    i think we are all missing the point here. it is not a question of whether or not the 4H is going to desensitize children to "killilng" but more of an appreciation they can gain of just how much effort and labor goes into the process of raising the food that feeds America's population. The animals that they encounter and deal with are not taken from them in some sort of dramatic fashion and run straight to the slaughter house. I would know, i was in 4H. The animal(s) that you are placed in care of are used as learning tools for the agriculture industry. They are NOT stolen or taken from the children, with the child forced to participate or watch. STOP OVER REACTING. Educate yourself first, do your own research and avoid catch phrases such as "Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?" What happens is, you hit the insanity button without knowing what you are talking about, thank you "Thepoint", for proving MY point. FYI, tigers dont cook meat because they lack the opposable thumb(s) needed to properly use propane grills. Its also why we are way, way ahead in the evolutionary race, because, well... we won. And being a student of biology, and agriculture, holding degrees in both from Ohio State, along with many years of experience on a farm, I can most certaintly tell you that livestock, that would be cows, pigs, chickens etc, are in no way, shape or form "just as responsive" as cats and dogs. You need to research why that is, a hint... they have been bred differently and cultured differenlty by humans for quite some time. My guess is that you yourself have never actually participated in the 4H or any similar community envolvement. Try next time to ask and learn before you pass judgement on something you are not connected to. Education is key to successful, well rounded people, something gained from 4H by way of teamwork and local community envolvement, not angry posts regarding the emotional trauma sustained by children. Besides, how do you know its not fun for the animals either, my pet pig told me he was the best tasting BLT ever... HA!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  45. Archaeologist

    Our ancestors have raised and slaughtered livestock for thousands of years. If our kids are going to eat meat, then how can it be bad for them to understand everything that goes into the process of raising and ethically slaughtering a healthy animal? When we compare that to feed lots and other corporate sources from which we typically get our meat, it seems to me like a healthy choice. Don't eat what you aren't willing to participate in yourself. Eating meat doesn't have to mean animal cruelty. We are omnivores, people. That means we evolved to eat meat along with our fruits, veggies, and grains.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  46. Damon

    Pretty sure the kids at Columbine or the kid at Virgina Tech weren't "farm kids" raised through the 4-H program.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  47. Angie

    I went to my first and last 4-H meeting at someone's home when I was about 8 years old. Me and my parents thought it was going to be like a girl scout type of thing. I thought I was going over there to make new friends and do crafts. Less than 10 minutes after being there I was told about how this particular club raises and breeds rabbits. I thought it was pretty cool, since I loved animals...We were then asked to go into the kitchen, when to my horror, I also learned that they raised these rabbits for food. I will never get that vision out of my head, as the poor rabbits were being prepared for dinner. I left immediately. All these years I thought I was at a "bad" 4-H club meeting...now I see I was at a normal 4-H meeting...How Awful !

    June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      So, what are we supposed to do for food? My family hunts deer, rabbits, squirrels, grouse, and other animals so we can survive the winter. The animals can't be released into the wild, as they're domesticated.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  48. bellablue

    Some of these comments are truly ridiculous. I was in 4-H and raised sheep. The sheep I got would have been feed sheep whether I raised them or not. I was taught to treat the animal humanely and compassionately. Did I cry when they were auctioned, of course, but I also learned that I gave them a good life before they were sold for meat (again something that would have occurred either way). I am a very socially conscience and empathetic person, not cold and heartless like people here are trying to imply. By the way, for all of you armchair activists, please give me the address of your farm animal sanctuary so I can post it at the local 4-H meeting!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  49. agm

    4-H is a great youth organization that teaches leadership, community service and various life skills through a range of projects. 4-H members do learn about healthy nutrition and some learn where food comes from and how lucky we are to have quality and abundant food in American thanks to our production agriculture industry. The one thing 4-H does promote is family time. 4-H has trained many leaders in many industries. I am very disspointed that CNN would have such a bias story. You have just made yourself like Fox News by this type of information (incomplete). We need more organizations like 4-H that teaches kids about agriculture because it is our ability to produce food that keeps this nation going and strong and too many kids in the cities think the food comes from the back of the grocery stores because that is what their parents have taught them because the parents don't know either! Shame on you for blasting a quality program such as 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  50. Larry

    If more people had been up to their elbows in a warm carcass, there would be less weirdness about death in America. Everything dies. One of the finest gifts you can give an animal is a good death, which does not include letting it die of old age. 4-H does not desensitize kids, it teaches them wisdom, which is sadly lacking in so many adults.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
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