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. Julianne Johnston

    Proud to be a former 4Her, mother of 4Hers and 4H leader. Teaching the youth of America leadership skills and pride in what they do. On a personal note, I am also an agricultural professional that respects others rights not to eat meat and just wished the same respect was on my choice to take care of animals wisely for the consumption of high-quality protein and essential amino acids.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Julianne Johnston

      One more thought... With all the violence on video games, TV and movies...it's 4H that desensitizing kids?? Really?

      June 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • SoCalDave

      Aww...now see...all you had to do was walk away. But instead you came back and had to be a hypocrite. So close...

      June 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  2. dodger017

    I cannot believe how sick and disgusting some of you are. Many people here are proud of the fact that they kill and eat other living things. If you do eat meat I can understand that, but to express pride and joy in the mistreatment of another life form is absolutely disgusting. By the way, every cow eats more vegetation than it provides meat. So those of you saying by not eating meat we would starve have absolutely no case. Its ass backwards. There is also not a single nutrient you cannot get from plants. There are a lot of ignorant meat eaters here who are simply ignorant or just telling straight out lies. In absolutely every single case and scenario it is better to be a vegan than a meat eater. Every single one.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Annoyed.

      Go to a farm.

      Humans can't eat the same vegetation (silage) that cows do. Common sense. So while they do consume more vegetation, if we eliminated the practice of raising them for food, we wouldn't get any more food from it.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Kevin

      Let me know how your GRASS diet goes... Nobody here is "proud" of killing animals for food. PLant eaters are always so condescending when they get on their high horse. Always pointing the finger at people who work hard (harder than most) to provide the things that help to sustain life for our societies. THIS IS THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS. If you own a stich of leather, use make-up/beauty products, own furniture, etc... you have no ground to stand on. Even the reflective paint used to make the trafic lines in the road contain what were once of living organisms critters (FUN FACT: that's why road paint is reflective). Either accept it or loathe yourself to sleep.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  3. DG207

    Of all the ridiculous useless politically correct left wing articles I have read this may be the worst ever.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • brianNH

      EXACTLY!!!

      June 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  4. SoCalDave

    If you don't want to approve then don't participate but you have no cause to prevent others from participating. K....thanks.....bye

    June 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  5. 4More4Hr

    Americans are so far removed from the food they put in their mouths. People really need to think about where that Big Mac comes from or where did that gallon of milk comes from. As a farm kid, I learned to RESPECT the animal in 4-H and learned RESPONSIBILITY and ACCCOUNTABILITY, one of the things children have no concept of these days. Mom & Dad usually take care of everything attitude Yes, I KNEW that at the end of the 4-H year, I would have to sell my animal and KNEW what was to happen to it., as the beef steer was destined for slaughter. And yes, I cried. As a youngster, it was a difficult thing to experience, but prepared me for the hard things we have to learn about and deal with as adults. Death being an obvious one. I also learned social skills and developed a great sense of fellowship, experiences that help us fit into humanity and function. I firmly believe that 4-H is an organization that does NOT desensitizes children from killing, but rather develops a greater awareness of life and its cycles. I believe also that 4-H teaches children AWARENESS of the world around us, how animals DO serve us, as WE serve them by caring for them and giving them food and shelter. What more could an I think the author of the article here should actually take adequate time to research before launching assaults and accusations. Seems that any reputable writer would.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  6. Former 4-H Veg

    I can't believe how cruel people are to vegetarians in this thread. I have been a vegetarian 20 years and never told anyone how to live their lives or that they were stupid for believing what they do. I am sad to see so many do this here.

    But I will make at least a few points that I haven't heard mentioned. First, my school affiliated with 4-H and FFA was in a big city, and a few of our members did go on to activities like gangs. Unfortunately, there was even an incident where they hurt some animals and an animal had to be put down because it was crushed. This was not common however.

    Incidentally, no one has mentioned that even not all of these clubs follow all the safety and ethical treatment rules. Our school was cited multiple times, but it was always the teachers that didn't follow these rules. Most of the kids loved their animals. We worked with steer, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits (our group also did gardening). Many kids got very attached and purchased their animals so they wouldn't have to be slaughtered.

    I knew some that became "desensitized" to killing because it was done often right in front of their eyes. However, no one has mentioned the other possibility and that is kids becoming more sensitive. I absolutely attribute my time in the program as what sparked my own vegetarianism. There are three others in the club during my time that also became vegetarians. I would be surprised if that isn't the case in other places as well.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  7. jack

    Dear PETA, ect. T.V. violence and violent video games are culprits, not 4-H. Humans are carnivores, primarily. Why do you think we have those "eye" teeth and incisors? 4-H also promotes farming. Don't tamper with MY food supply. If you don't want to eat meat, etc. that's your choice. Stop trying to force your preferences on the majority.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  8. GC

    Do any of the people who are opposed to"desentisizing youth" watch movies or play video games that promote violence between people? Talk about desentisization! Are you squaking about that too?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  9. CattleJudge

    All you sensitized people who think 4-H is creating animal "Haters", come on over and I will fix you some tofu on the grill next to my rib eye.....and then watch your mouth water as I cut open that succulent steak.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  10. Moby49

    Some people just won't be satisfied till everyone is a vegan.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  11. joe323456346

    God gave us dominion over the animal kingdom. It is not wrong to kill animals for food as long as the animal is killed quickly and as painlessly as possible. As much of the meat should be used as possible to minimize waste.

    What about the slaughter of that innocent head of lettuce or that poor tomato? Oh the horror!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  12. Otakon

    To all the vegens and vegitarians out there... Humans started off pure carnivores and only became omnivores after they over hunted and reduced their food supply. In fact the appendix is a bacterial breeding colony to aid in meat digestion (I think, not completly confident of this info, feel free to disprove it). Also desensitization does not automatically lead to enjoyment of killing and the cruelty.

    My last comments are thus:

    Think with your head, feel with your heart, Not the other way around.

    We are who We choose to be, We will be no more, We can be nothing less.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • itsjustme8921

      Humans started off as vegetarians, but became omnivores as we moved out of the jungles and onto the plains.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  13. James H. Black

    Seriously, anyone who thinks being in 4H desensitizes the kids is a moron. If anything it heightens their appreciation for the food that they eat. The same thing goes for hunting. Those people who say they started do 4H or hunt and stopped, because they didn't like the thought of killing an animal are the very people who prove that it doesn't desensitize you.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Bob in Pa

    How on earth do people like this get a spot in public forum as if they are experts. They have not thought that if it were not for the efforts of people in our rural country, they would propably not exist. They or their ansestors have depended upon farm bred food or crops at some time in their lives.

    They obviously don't knowsquat about what 4H is or does. The majority of 4H members are rural / semi rural familyies that have depended upon raising animals or farming for most of their lives. Yes, its sad if an attachment develops, but I have seen several families adopt those animals and bring them back home. Get a life and get out of ours !

    June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  15. Birdsong

    There was a woodchuck (ground hog) that was eating in my garden. It completely destroyed my cabbage and broccoli crop, and most of my beans. I shot it and cleaned it then let it soak in salt water for two days in the fridge. Cooked it in a crock pot for a few hours. It was surprisingly tasty! Better than rabbit. Try woodchuck – you won't be disappointed!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  16. Kinzab

    I am a 4-H leader and my children have been very involved in 4-H for several years. If by desensitization, you mean that it makes children aware that every piece of meat on our plate was once a living, breathing animal, then yes, I guess it does. We talk very frankly and freely about what it means to be an omnivore and what choices that entails. Our family does belive that the animals we raise are overall happier and treated more humanely than the animals raised commercially or in feed lots.

    Quite frankly, I am surprised that more vegetarians and PETA members are not pro 4-H as at least it teaches children to make very informed descisions about where their food comes from. I feel most Americans a very far removed from the package of meat on their counter to the cow in the lot. Most Americans are totally squimish about killing themselves but then happily eat meat and wear leather. 4-H teaches responsibility and accountability for these choices. I think the anti 4-H folks are misguided because they believe a child simply could not raise an animal for meat, and be ok with that unless they are brainwashed. That is simply untrue. My children are humble, thankful and respectful of the food on their plate. Should they choose to remain omnivores or should they choose to become vegetarians, that is a choice we support. At least I know it will be an informed one.

    4-H has done so much for our kids and the kids we lead. I feel they will be actual forces of change for the better in the world. They know hard work, accountability, responsibility and presentation skills. There are a lot of people in today's society who spend a lot of time feeling superior, and bemoaning the fact that others are not as enlightened as they are and doing nothing to make the world better. Meanwhile, the 4-H, FFA and farm raised kids are out, quietly and humbly working. "Take a little, give a lot", and "Love God, love others and serve the world" are our unofficial mottos. (Before the haters start posting- let me point out that we welcome children of all religious and spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, race, ethinicity, whatever.)

    Our County charges $35 a year for an unreal amount of services: sewing, rocketry, fishing, computers, consumer education, leadership, wind energy, food preservation, hydrology, etc. There are a ton of scholarships and money for kids involved in many, many areas of STEM (science, technology,engineering and mathmatics) with or without livestock. I urge any parent to run out and find your nearest 4-H club. You will not find a better youth organization, period.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • 4More4Hr

      Very well put.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. Thepoint

    I don't think it's desirable to put kids in front of the Xbox either. There are other activities in life :).

    June 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  18. Justin

    Or how about this... each of you could worry about your OWN children, beliefs, morals. I am sure each of you that agree against 4-H are eating a chicken sandwich as you write your comment...mean while that chicken you are eating started its life stuffed into a cage with 40 others and tube feed till it was fat. Yea that sounds a like a much better alternative to responsible raising of animals. Worry about yourself, you have plently more problems.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  19. David - Ohio

    I am a 4H advisor, however I was not raised to know 4H at all. I now have 15 kids in my group and we currently do Horses (primarily), chickens and goats. We also do a handful of other things such as photography, scrapbooking, etc...

    The reason I am writing is to respond to the people stating the kids are raising 'pets' and then they are all taken off to be sold to be killed. This is not the case. MOST of the animals that are done with 4h (with the exception of horses) are born with the intention of being eaten. This IS the reason they are alive. If it was not for the food industry, the animals wouldn't have a need to exist at all! The kids that get these pets know from the start these animals are to be sold at the end of the 'project'.

    I would agree this does desensitize the kids to the letting-go of an animal. All three of my children are animal lovers and have their own pets they don't ever want to lose. My daughter has two pot-bellied pigs that are pets... not to be eaten. If they were to die, she would be very sad. We would have a funeral and we would weep. We would then go in the house, and fry up some bacon, from a hog that maybe another 4h kid raised.

    The fact of the matter is we eat meat. We like meat. The vegitarians out there are not going to ever ever ever change that fact. It is in our genes, and how we are built. Get over it. I am not riding you to eat a porter house and you should not get on your high horse and try to tell me to eat vegies!

    The comments about the animals suffering is unfounded and ignorant. Obviously there are many that do, and those plants need to be dealt with. There are many treated humainly (as humane as you can, when taking a life) and those pork chops are yummy!

    We teach our kids to love animals and to respect them. Also to love nature and respect it as well. They learn all about the anatomy, how to keep them healthy, what to watch for, etc. It is educational, with the unintended consequence of desensitizing them to the loss of an animal. Let's face it, are we REALLY causing a lot of harm in this? Are we REALLY causing kids to have a 'throw away' mentality? I say no. Society as a whole is doing this. Advertising is doing this. You can't watch TV, read the paper or flip through a magazine without seeing an ad for the newest 'something'. Throw out the old and get the new. For those people commenting on that, get out of your car, stop reading this on your IPAD, turn off your PC, and live in a cave. Apparently you don't like the throw-away lifestyle...right? Afterall, where is the cell phone you used to have??

    Just remember... none of these animals would EVEN exist if we didn't eat them. They just have a much shorter life span when not tagged as a 'pet'.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  20. Nunya

    ...this article is a joke, right?
    Yeah, better pull your kids out of 4H and park them in front of the Xbox so they can play Black Ops all day. Wouldn't want to desensatize them, would we?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Annoyed.

      good point.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  21. Stacey

    Hey, I think it's a cool idea to raise your own food, kill your own food, prepare it and all. I actually think I'm too sensitive because I'd actually like to own chickens and rabbits and be able to butcher them and have them for a meal, but I don't see myself able to kill these creatures. My parents raised animals for food when I was growing up, but I was never required to kill them. People used to do this all the time before you could go to the supermarket to get your food. I bet if you go back 100 years and have this same discussion people would laugh in your faces.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  22. descarado

    Obama has the gays, blacks, Muslims, radicals feminists and 24/7 Palin Syndrome Sufferers all wrapped up for next election. Is he pitching camp with those wild and cray vegans and vegetarians?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • descarado

      wild and crazy

      June 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  23. Hugh

    You are ignorant. First off you know NOTHING about 4-H you idiotic fool. Secondly, at least we know better grammar than you do. It's people like you that ruin children. Foolish reporting.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  24. FoolKiller

    Heather King (In Cold Blood) you made a (in your warped mind) valid point. So to humor you, we've all decided to stop feeding you. Buh Bye.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  25. Moose

    We are worried about 4-H. HOw sad. I teach and my First and second graders are allowed to play DS, video, play station games for hours that do nothing but shoot and kill other people, animals or objects. Talk about desensititation. And don't say the games are rated. The kids play all the mature games their parents do. These are the kids we should be worried about. The don't know the difference between real and fiction and when they are teens and have guns in their hands, watch out!!! It will not be the cows and sheep that need to worry.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  26. Anti Animal Animal Eaters Union

    Humans know what needs to be done to stop meat eating.....all tigers and lions, and other meat eating animals need to be protested against and corrected for such awful, and cruel behavior! Shame on ALL the animals that eat meat! I cannot believe a lion, or bear would kill a baby deer, or eat a fish trying to spawn! Its awful! I cry when I watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and some cheetah kills a baby antelope to feed her evil, meat eating babies!! PISSES ME OFF!! I lose sleep over it. We need to take a stand against such evil things and teach these animals to eat veggies and berries! Maybe we can reverse extinction rates and have a world free of such horrible atrocities! This HAS to stop.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • i eat meat

      Thank you so much for the laugh. I needed it.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  27. whats4dinner

    Who do you think farms all that local sustainably harvested organic food, or that local pasture raised grass fed beef? People should be encouraging young people to learn more about sustainable and responsible agricultural practices, and these programs are the way to do it.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  28. B

    For those of you trying to shove animal rights down our throats, for every animal you don't eat, I'll eat 3.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  29. Mike in Oregon

    Asking PETA what they think of 4H is like asking the KKK what they think about the NAACP.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  30. CattleJudge

    Just who are the author(s) of this article? Who are the authors of "Eatocracy" and what might their qualifications be?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bob in Pa

      From the looks of it, they have no credentials.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  31. jackpine

    Let those who have troulbe eating anything once alive eat dirt, vegatation can grow in soil so obviously there is nutritional value in dirt. It would be a tragedy to have vegans and their like minded ilk feel remorse for enjoying a good meal. Myself, I can live with the guilt of supporting 4-H and enjoying a good steak, chicken, pork chop or anything else produced by those fine young men and women. Furthermore, CNN should concentrate on reporting news, not giving a voice to delusional whiners.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Annoyed.

      exactly!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  32. descarado

    This article would seem to appeal to the creepy, weenie-boy gamers that grew up in the bubble-wrapped suburbs. No wonder we are witnessing the "decline and fall" of America in real time.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  33. LEW

    I just have a REALLY hard time believing the problem with today's youth is 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  34. Sarah

    I was one of those kids who cried each time my steer was sold–a 4-H member who cares deeply about her animals. As a 16 year old girl, I cried my heart out as I led my beloved Bubbles (yes, he had a name and the sweetest personality) onto the semi truck that would haul him to the slaughter plant.

    From the moment I purchased Bubbles, I knew that he was meant to become beef, to feed someone a juicy steak, or hamburger, probably in some city I'd never even heard of. I knew that from the get-go, and I raised him anyway.

    I fed him twice a day, making sure he always had plenty of clean water to drink (especially on hot days), many times before I myself ate my own breakfast and dinner. I taught him how to lead, how to show, and how to present himself in the showring.

    At county fair time, I showed him and then sold him at the auction. Yes, I cried, but I cried because I knew that Bubbles had fulfilled his purpose–to become something that someone will eat. Bubbles was never intended to be a pet. After time is spent with a person or animal, you grow to care about them. I knew Bubbles was created to become food; but I still showed him love and respect, because that's how we are meant to treat other living things–people or animals.

    Through 4-H, I have learned many things–how to bake awesome cookies, how to give a speech, how to be a leader, how to socialize, and have traveled the U.S. Another 4-H member I met became my husband. But the most important thing I learned through 4-H is about life. We are each born to fulfill a purpose, and that includes animals. I fulfill my individual purpose each and every day; Bubbles fulfilled his as someone's delicious steak. Everyone acknowledges that purpose, that cycle of life, each time we bite into a cheeseburger, a chicken nugget, or drink a glass of milk.

    God created animals to provide food for us so that we could then glorify Him through our deeds.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  35. Mark

    Crap like this is what is going to kill our country. DESENSITIZING? IT'S A REALITY YOU MORONS! The animal has to die before we can eat it! Where is the logic, the outright common sense in this argument?
    Let me guess, the people who think this is true are probably the same ones who wouldn't kill an armed robber in their own home because they're people too.
    Pathetic.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  36. Elizabeth

    just like the rest of you I will use my FREEDOM OF SPEECH to comment on this.
    4H is a FABULOUS program. My daughter is actively involved and I am an actively involved parent. This club promotes good care and health of the animals, education to the children on so many levels.
    the animals these kids raise are not done on steroids or fillers. these animals are not kept in dark crowded barns while being pumped with steroids to feed the masses (Like Corporate America does so you can conveniently go to the grocery store and get your steaks for the 4th of July Grilling!) These animals are well cared for, these kids do it themselves. they nurture and some of them teach them silly things. these kids do get attached and it is crushing for them when the animal is sold.
    these kids raise enough money (depending on how many years they've been doing the animals) to put themselves through school or partially through school from the sale of the animals. they put it in the bank every year and by the time they are ready for college many of them can pay for 2-4 years of college. Plus the 4h program has scholarships also.
    these kids understand the purpose of the animal and most have good leaders who teach them the difference between the way they are raising the animal and the way large corporations raise them.
    these kids cry when they sell their Steer or pig. these kids get attached. But these children are also full of pride knowing THEY raised that animal.
    Please, LEAVE $H ALONE!
    if you going to attack 4H please find a reason to attack the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, and don't forget to attack the FFA and oh I'm sure there are plenty of other 'HEART OF AMERICA' clubs you can attack to completely destroy what is left of this country.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  37. Rachael

    In my experience with 4-H, kids that raise cows, sheep, rabbits spend a lot more time learning to breed these animals, care form them and give them proper veternarian care than slaughtering them. You average 4-H kids knows more about taking good care of livestock than any of these people demonizing this great program because some animals are sold for meat. 4-H kids have a lot more respect for life than other kids – including all these self righteous vegans and PETA members! Leave 4-H alone. It is a fantastic program for rural kids.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  38. iCanCookCanU

    The eatocracy column really ought to be renamed the vegocracy column. The articles I've seen continue to promote incorrect 'truths' of all kinds, including ridiculous claims such as eating meat isn't healthy or that eating fat makes you fat. That said, the last thing I want to do is convince vegetarians to eat meat, as that will only drive up my costs. So, eat vegetables and be merry! (oh yeah, I'm a liberal who engaged his liberal brain to do the research to figure out what to eat - my conclusion has been to eat high quality meats and dairy of all kinds coupled with vegetables).

    June 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  39. 4-H Leader and 10 year member

    Last time I checked 4-H members were not walking around with automatic weapons hunting down animals in cold blood. I should know. I've been a leader for 4 years and was a 10 year member. Extension educators who manage 4-H work hard to teach youth the true value of working with animals. Yes, the award winning animals such as cows and pigs are auctioned off to local butchers at the end of fairs but it is done in a respectful manner and is very hard of the member. Their animals are part of their family. In many ways this is respectful and much more humane than any hamburger you buy from McDonalds.

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

      Good comment!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
      • Carnivore

        @Rachel, let's get together and eat meat! Then we can eat each other!

        June 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • skeeteril

      I also believe that some of those animals are purchased for breeding, because of the excellent traits exhibited.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
      • 4-H Leader and 10 year member

        Yes, they are also purchased for breeding, especially the steer. Many other cattle holders do purchase the animals for this as well. It just irritates me because the person who wrote this article probably knows very little about how 4-H is actually ran. Ignorance spreads hate.

        June 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  40. Docit

    4-H = Columbine.

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

      You are uneducated on this matter & need an eye opening!

      June 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
      • Docit

        I am quite educated on this matter, which makes it all the worse. This is an absurd article, written for absurd reasons. My statement just took it one step further. I suppose you could call it trolling, but I did not make the statement purely to get a rise out of people.

        June 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • SicPup

      Well I guess when Cows are the only beings that will hang out with you, then you can make that analogy.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
      • Docit

        Strange, wasn't the lack of friends one of the core reasons for the Columbine shootings? In any case, my statement was taking the article to absurd lengths.

        June 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • dink

      Docit- I bet you're laughing that you riled someone to respond to your post. Do you have anything else to say other than showing that you are not able to complete a sentence?

      June 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
      • Docit

        Why sure! I was merely pointing out how silly thinking 4-H turns kids into killers is. I just took it to absurd lengths. I was a member of 4-H for several years, and I am now an animal advocate, helping strays receive rehabilitation and find good homes. But being in 4-H and also being an advocate for animals has not turned me away from eating meat. I have no illusions where my food comes from. Then again, I suppose I might have some hidden inner killer waiting to come out, all thanks to 4-H. I guess we'll see. =)

        June 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  41. Beth

    This is the most absurd thing I have EVER read!! I am in absolute shock after reading this numb-skulled article! 4-H is one of the single most important aspects of a responsible child's life! Instead of planning unruley things to do with others every single night 4-Hers plan feed regimens, time to clean pens, feed & water animals, & time to walk & exercise said animals. I have shown swine since the ripe age of 2 1/2 years old. I currently still show & it is a huge part of my life! When I was in high school my nights consisted of practices for two varsity sports followed by carefully planned care or my 4-H animals, my pigs were exercised outside (that means in the open, on our 800 acre farm, not fenced in) at least 5/7 days of the week. I am truly personally offended by this article, I can say with near 100% certainty that the author of this article is likely a person who grew up without pets or the opportunity to show & is now expression anger due to jealousy. As I said before I am in complete shock of this article. I am a successful nursing student that works full time & also manages to handle my household & personal finances. Without all of my experience with time management & budgeting I have gained through 4-H my failure would be imminent. People need to get the facts, visit & meet with participants BEFORE writing non-sense that causes such distress in people who are wrongfully being called "desensitized killers."

    June 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  42. Magnus

    It is good for us to know where our food comes from, veggies and meat, 4-H is one of the best experiences a young person can have. Also I would like to say Hats Off to the 4-H'ers that walked out of the Carrie Underwood's concert at their Natioal Convention a few years ago. Ms. Underwood is an avid supporter of the Humane Society of the United States. A terribly corrupt organization who's goal is to remove our rights to own, breed and consume our own property-our animals!

    June 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  43. Ridge

    @ Vegetarian – "Being a vegetarian and mostly vegan I'm not fat and sluggish so that works out pretty well"

    Since when does eating meat make a person fat and sluggish. Sure obesity has nothing to do with people stuffing their faces with oreos, chips, fries, pastries, ice cream... I'm sure meat has very little to do with people being fat.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  44. Mare

    I'd rather have my nieces and nephews know that their meat had a life before it ended up on the plate. This will show them to respect all living things, and teach them to respect the earth as well. Food (meat and veggies) need people to propagate, we need to respect that. Food doesn't come from a factory, wrapped in plastic.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  45. Annoyed.

    While I think some of these comments are getting away from the original intent of this article (mine included), bottom line is this: We simply can not feed the world without animals and animals byproducts. It is literally impossible. Would these hippies who are going on about animal cruelty prefer that half of the world die of starvation, in order to save the lives of soul-less animals? These are probably the same hippies who voted against genetically engineering rice that contained more vitamins and minerals for 3rd world countries for the simple fact that they fear the word GMO. So please, someone tell me... if we can't eat meat, eggs, milk, or enhance the plants that we do have, how will the world survive??

    June 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Given many of the statements from people in PETA, along with other organizations like that (including the many eco-terrorist organizations out there), they would LOVE if half (or more) of the human population died out. Some are even advocating racial suicide.

      My response is: You first.

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

      Whoa there Annoyed. Let's leave that GMO debate for another day.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  46. Darryl Cox

    I didn't even need to read the article. Wow, what a concept! Everyone should just buy their groceries at the supermarket and pretend that no animal died to put that steak under the glass. I grew up on a farm and I believe that raising animals and understanding the purpose that they are there for is important. I also learned as a hunter on the farm that you don't just indiscriminately kill animals. If you kill it you eat it, otherwise you just injoy the beauty of the creature that God created. No, I don't care to hear from you veggie eaters. God put us in charge of the animals to use as we wlike and to care for .... there is a balance to be maintained.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  47. Leota

    I was in 4-H between the ages of 9 and 11 years old. I raised three lambs. Each year, I became very attached to the animal I raised...feeding it, walking it, cleaning up after it. In my mind, it was my pet. On the last night of the county fair, all of us 4-H kids took our lambs to a giant pen, and let them loose. They stayed in the pen for a couple hours before being loaded en masse into the truck that would take them to slaughterhouse. MANY of kids were crying their eyes out over it. It was definitely the most painful night of the year for me. I can still remember it vividly. But yet, the next year, I would get another lamb, because I remembered the joy I got from interacting with it. Finally, after the third lamb had come and gone, it clicked in my mind that this was wrong. How could I love that animal and then send it off to be killed, just so some already overfed American could have another lamb chop? It did not make logical sense to me to love animals and then eat them. So I became a vegetarian shortly after that. My younger sister had the same experience, and she's a vegetarian as well. That was 20 years ago, and I have not eaten meat since then.

    I'm not sure if 4-H "desensitizes" kids to killing–in my case it sensitized me and made me wake up. I think it has more to do with the level of intelligence and empathy a child (or adult, really) already has to determine if they can make the connection between the food on their plate and the animal they loved. Of course, some people can never make that connection. You'll see these mental deficits not only in the way people treat animals but also other humans. That lack of empathy is sad. And still some choose not to think through the implications of their actions because they're lazy and it would be an "inconvenience" to change their habits.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • SicPup

      So you are saying that 4H members can't interact with other Humans properly ? Lets not stretch it here.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • rodeomom

      so you are saying that myself who takes VERY well care of her animals, or my brother, or my daughter will or have abused or neglected animals and are mean to other humans, because we bought, raised, sold, repeat for 11 yrs. My daughter who is in her 3rd yr of 4h is taking goats, watches those goats go on the trailer, tells them to have a nice ride, and go feed someone, will grow up to be rude and abusive to animals. HA HA HA HA HA let me pick myself up off the floor first. GET A LIFE.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  48. dink

    I remember when my father killed my rabbits for food. I was about 10 years old and I did cry to know they were killed. I matured a bit that day but it was not in a bad way. I never had a desire to be a hunter, but I know the difference between a good and bad kill. We are omnivores and I wonder what these animal rights folk are thinking. They must not have ever felt the real burn of hunger..

    Most of America is rural. 4H teaches kids to live well, survive, and humanely provide food for those that are too emotionally sheltered or frail to provide it on their own.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  49. Programmr

    I was in 4-H as a boy and it was a great program. Although I didn't raise animals, some of other kids in our club did, as well as many of my relatives who grew up on farms. The kids who did raise animals learned a lot about how to care for animals in a humane way. You're simply not going to raise a prize winning animal if you abuse it.

    And I'm always puzzled by all the people who equate vegetarians with liberals. I was also a fairly strict vegetarian for several years, but during those years, I was a straight ticket voting Republican.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • SicPup

      Choosing to be a vegetarian vs being an animal rights activist and trying to forcefully stop other people from eating meat are two entirely different things.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  50. fadeinlight

    This website makes me laugh: so many idealists that know what's best for everyone else. Let people be free and make their own decisions. Yes, we see how compassionate you are for the cows–now please allow us to make up our own minds.

    June 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
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