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. Oliver Wendell Douglas

    I prefer to get my meat from the grocery meat section where no animals are harmed in the process. Why would anyone want to actually kill an animal for meat, when they can get death-free meat that is sealed in plastic and presented next to an appetizing selection of spices and marinades?

    June 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jeff

      Of course! Only savages kill animals for meat! Civilized people eat only meat from the Moon Meat Mine!

      June 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Tyler

      You know where that meat comes from? A cows dead body.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Redd Foxx

    I eat pig's feet, hog maws, all that. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing

    June 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  3. John Hillman

    The people that are "desensitized" to killing animals are those that never SEE the animals. All the vast majority ever see in the United States are prepackaged cuts of meat. They live lives that never get them off an artificial surface. They have never been to a butcher shop in other countries where birds are hanging from hooks on the ceiling. They see "legs and thighs" or "boneless breasts". They have no idea which muscle is cut for filet mignon. Few have seen entire fish. All they see is "fish sticks" or "fish patties".

    This article is entirely processed male bovine feed.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Minnie

      Ha! That last part made me giggle more then just a little bit.

      June 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  4. Jerky

    Reading the flames, munchin' on beef jerky. Mmm, meat.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Of course leftist urban trendoids think that 4H is cruel. The meat they eat is spontaneously generated in the special meat production box in the back room of the supermarket, right next to the chicken synthesizer and the fish replicator. No cruelty for them! Hypocrites.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  6. dodger017

    What on earth does this have to do with liberalism you whacked out right wingers? To you guys anything that isn't presented to you from Fox News is left wing and liberal. Jesus Christ. This article has absolutely nothing to do with liberal politics.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • OhioBuckeye

      Can you please make your point without taking God's name in vain?

      June 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  7. Jal

    Funny, how most people here sling mud at the vegetarians/vegans.
    Do some research before you make a post. Take some time and do some valid research (note, this research doesn't come from websites with agendas, but from third/neutral parties). It's a fact that most Americans over-consume meat and meat products. Just look at the leading causes of deaths in the USA. Sure, eat your meat, but think about cutting back for health reasons. Not to mention ethical and environmental reasons. The 4H doesn't direct kids one way or the other... they cannot brainwash your children..., and if you're that concerned about it take time to do research and educate your kids according to your beliefs, that's your right anyways!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jerky

      From what I can tell, the only vegetarians people are getting mad at are those who are up in arms against meat-eaters. It's a free country, like it or not.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  8. sean

    How unbelievably uneducated this story is. 4-H is a program for youth development. What it teaches at its core are life skills in communication, responsibility, integrity, team work, hard work, and continual learning. Yes some kids do show market animals. However to believe that all 4-H is is about slaughtered animals is like assuming all that is America can be gleaned from one visit to one city. I grew up in 4-H and was even able to attend college in part due to scholarships I received in the program. I never raised or showed any livestock but I did tour a meat packing facility a couple times. And that was during a cooking project. We learned about different cuts and grades of meat and how to best and properly prepare them. So this clearly desensitised this pro life, anti death penalty individual. The alternatives to being in 4-H, such as being in a gang clearly would have been a much better choice for my development into a contributing member of society.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  9. lisa

    I would like everyone to visit a farm and spend time with 4-Hers working with their cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, ducks, and chickens and any other animals that I may have forgotten. You will see the true compassion that kids have for their animals, but they know the facts of life. I showed cattle and every summer, at the end of the fair it was time to sell them. It is their purpose. I would appreciate it if people would do their research on 4-H before they start talking about something they know nothing about. 4-H has so many values that it teaches today's youth that are forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the fast moving cities. It is a way of life, and it is a living. Farming is the backbone of the United States, and the world. Kids are to sheltered today, parents not teaching or letting their children be educated on different types of living and cultural salutations. There are people and kids who have never been to a farm, have no idea what one really looks like besides what is depicted in movies. And mostly they have no idea where their food comes from besides the store.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  10. ruralPA

    For crying out loud!
    I have never read such a liberal, alarmist, or biased example of journalism in my entire life. 4-H helps our youth in rural areas stay involved in the community. Most who are members are also involved in the agricultural community in some way, so they understand that their efforts lead to sustaining a nation. There can be no comparison between 4-H and the meat factories because purchasing a 4-H-raised animal means you can see the animal before buying it. You then know whether or not it's healthy and can dispatch it in as humane a way as possible before slaughtering the meat. How about examining the benefits of membership in more detail? The sense of involvement in your community, learning the value of hard work, or making lifelong friends? Or keeping kids and teenagers involved so that they don't stray into destructive habits like drinking or drugs? No. Instead, the typical urbanite vegan goes on a rampage trying to tear down a way of life that she neither knows anything about nor understands, but which effectively sustains life in the entire United States via crop and animal harvesting. Well, here's one right back at you.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Ziek

    I'd say educationg children (or anyone for that matter) of where their food comes from whether it is a living creature or a plant is very important. If education = desensitization them maybe. (for the ignorant)

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Danielle

    My sister and I both went through the 4-H program. She showed goats and rabbits, where as I showed goats, rabbits, dairy beef feeders and beef steers. I was more interested in learning all aspects of agriculture and she was only interested in a small part. She is a vegetarian now and I raise beef cattle on a farm. Guess what, we both experienced the exact same things but she chose one method for her diet and I another. She has a very good knowledge of the production animal market and still promotes 4-H, all the projects terminal and non terminal. Even though she is a vegetarian we get along and can talk intelligently about production animals, so take my advice and meet a farmer, maybe even a 4-H kid and see why they are so passionate about their industry! We aren’t desensitized, just more aware of what it takes to raise animals for food production.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Rachel

    This is the single most ignorant article I have read yet on this website. I was in 4H for ten years. The goal is to teach young people responsablity and to give them a taste of the real world. These animals are not meant to be thought of as pets. I love animals and believe that we should be good stewards, and that is what 4H promotes. I really think that CNN should spend its time reporting real news not this biased drivel.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  14. The Cows

    Eat mor chiken!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  15. iamacamera1

    What a really stupid premise; that raising animals for food "desensitizes" to killing. Let's see how this goes. A 4-H kid buys a cow, with their own money not mom and dads, the cow gets pregnant but has trouble delivering on a very cold, windy March morning so the kid rolls out of the sack at 4:00 A.M. to "pull the calf" (assist the cow in delivery for those of you in the PETA group that wouldn't know a cow from a bull or steer). The kid then moves the new mama cow and calf to a barn so they are protected; gotta protect that investment. The kid then doctors the cow and the calf till the calf is strong enough to survive. When the calf is weaned the kid takes the calf and feeds it by hand and doctors it by hand so he/she can show it at a county fair (yeehaw). He/she washes and grooms the calf regularly and trains it to walk on a lead until the big day comes. The kid hauls the calf to the county fair, or state fair (yeehaw) where the kid sells it to a buyer who pays three times what the animal is worth so the kid has the funds to do the same thing again next year. Sound to me like a process that really does devalue life and de-sensitizes the kid to killing. What foolishness. If you took every inner city kid and walked them through this process we wouldn't be having the problems we're having in the country. 4-H teaches about the realities of life, personal responsibility friendship and a whole group of values that aren't being taught in schools, churches or homes. I think every kid should be required to be in 4-H. Screw the critics!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  16. Cattle mom

    The same people who are saying 4-H is desensitizing children to killing might be the same people who park their children infront of the t.v., video game, etc all day. At least the children involved in 4-H are out doing something constructive that will build skills sets, leadership abilities, and citizenship skills rather than a couch potatoe zombie that will stay unemployed living in their parents basement until he/she is 30.

    There is a difference between raising animals as pets and rasing animals for food. There are emotional ties to both. Just because one is eaten doesn't mean you haven't loved it, cared for it, and became attached to it. If anything, this program shows the reality of how we get food to the grocery store. It doesn't magically appear. It has to be raise from a baby, into adolecence and then into adulthood where it finally becomes food on your plate. If more people truly understood how are food is raised instead of reading sensationalized articles and idiotic comments on said articles by anonymous people, then articles like these would be so outrageous who would waste their time.

    Please, know your food, know your farmer, and be a responsible consumer.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  17. 4H Adivsor

    As a former 4H member and now 4H advisor nearly 40 yrs total and country born and bred not to mention educated. I can tell you these kids and parents work HARD and they are no haters. A lot of times that money earned when their project is done is used for college education so you are not supporting them thru welfare with a strew of babies and other means. they learn to be self sufficient, well mannerd, educated, they know the meaning of work, goals and perfection. While helping their fellow human allong with livestock. We've helped developed Engineers, Dr's, lawyers, nurses, teachers, reasearch scientist, photographers over the yrs to name a few. While they and others are learning about animals and the food chain, I strongly suggest you dine on your local lawn complete with chemicals or the food grown in the magic back room of your local grocery while wearing those pricey shoes that some child under 10 made in some slum country. Who says farmers don't treat their cows good, never got out of bed at 20 below zero to make sure they had their needs taken care of 1st. Wake up ppl, you cant live in a pretend world if you want to eat and surrvive.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  18. Clay

    I don't care what any of you think about raising and killing animals for food. Be a vegan and spout off your D-bag rhetoric as much as you want , but don't come between me and my steak. You live your life, and I'll live mine.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • i eat meat

      Hear Hear!! I may just stab you with my knife if you come between me and my dinner!

      June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Moo

    If it's not human, it's there for eating.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  20. ray

    yes, 4-h desensitizes kids to killing. but these kids are closer to understanding the role bovines and other animals play in american food chain than the majority of americans (who, ironically, resemble bovines). this headlne should be less bait-ey, because 4-h desensitizes kids to the reality that eating an animal requires killing the animal. but what's the scare here? should we be more concerned whether or not a group of intelligent, knowledge seeking kids are being desensitized to human killing by watching people being shot, blown up and killed on tv every night (including iraqis and afghanistanis on this news channel?). also, cnn is making money off your opinion. this question was asked so people would argue. every post, including this one, becomes a number on a spreadsheet. that spreadsheet is used to sell advertising. look at the banner ad at the top right of this page or the one below. ad placement prices are negotiated by # of visitors/click through rates. that we've expressed our opinions here just makes cnn more money. click one of the banner ads to make them even more money. the economic recovery is underway. now, let's all buy a boat.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  21. Tim

    My family is deeply involved in 4H. We work at the local county fair and also witht he junior livestock auction. To say that this "desensitizes" kids is a total fabrication. Both of my children raise and show animals, specifically goats. We like the animals but the truth is theyu are raised as meat animals. The kids care for them fro birth but the understanding is that the animals are being raised for slaughter. We don't celebrate that fact but it is the truth. Why should it be sugar coated? It is true I see kids every year that are crying when they leave the sale ring. It's hard to see but it drives home the fact that they do care.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  22. RichP

    Rule one, don't name your food like a pet. Vegetables are what food eats. I think everyone should know how to dispatch, clean and dress food sources, whether land or water dwelling. I also think everyone should know what vegetables are edible and well as what ones are not. It never ceases to amaze me how much is NOT taught anymore. Living in North New Jersey in the late 60's we brought our shotguns to school during small game season and many would hunt when going home in the after noon or take one of the other buses that went further out on the game lands or farms where we had permission to hunt. Both my son and daughter hunt, If I had had more time I would have gotten involved in 4H where I now live in rural Pa so my kids would have learned more.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  23. Andrea

    4-H is an excellent organization. In our society, most people do not understand where there food comes from. 4-H teaches children to value the food that is served to them. These children learn the money, time, and effort that it takes to produce meat. For those of you who are vegetarian, I respect that choice. I will not tell you that you are wrong for refusing to eat meat. In return, I expect the same respect. Eating meat is a valid dietary choice, whether you believe that or not.

    I owe 4-H a debt of gratitude for teaching me leadership, responsibility, public speaking, social, goal-setting, budgeting, and hard work. Regardless of weather you agree with meat production, you should realize that 4-H'ers are some of the most responsible, intelligent, and hard working children you will ever meet. They understand where their food comes from and how much it takes to provide that food.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  24. Momma

    My daughter (13 yrs old) raises lambs. She is an active 4-Her. She feeds her own animals. She gives them their shots. She cleans their pens, feeds them treats and takes them for walks. She cleaned up the mess when the neighbor's pit bulls got loose and attacked. She insisted that we drive their bodies two hours away to a wolf reserve so their deaths would not be wasted. It's her tiny hands that pulls the lambs out of their mothers when they get stuck. She's the one who bottle feeds the ones that are too small to make it on their own. She is there from the day they are born till the day they go to the butcher. She loves them. Every one of them has a name and a place in her heart. I am proud of her and of those tears she cries when her lambs go through auction. She knows they are headed to the butcher and then to someone's dinner table and her tears bear witness to the fact that she respects and values both their life and their sacrifice. It is important for her to understand where her food comes from and at what cost.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  25. femfilly

    I was a 4-H kid. I raised and butchered my own animals. I see small scale farming as more humane and ethical than factory farms. When you're only raising 2 cows or 4 pigs at a time, each animal is cared for to a much higher standard than it would in a pen of hundreds of it's kind. My understanding and appreciation for eating meat grew because of my role in 4-H. I know where my food comes from and I care how the animals I eat are treated.

    For the people who think eating meat is unethical, you aren't going to convince enough Americans to stop the meat industry. You're better off focusing your efforts on the humane treatment of stock animals. Animals are better served on small farms than in industrial settings.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  26. OhioBuckeye

    While I haven't eaten red meat in almost 20 years, I found this to be a very irresponsible column merely written to criticize an organization representing the breadbasket of America. I choose not to eat red meat for personal resaons but certainly don't force my beliefs on others. We don't have to go back too many generations when most of our families were growing and raising their own food. I have friends with kids in 4H and they can raise a calf to send to auction yet have a family dog that they love and sleep with. They certainly are not desensitized.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Annoyed.

      good post

      June 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • KSRanchGirl

      Thank you for your insightful comment. I respect your personal decisions and certainly appreciate you respecting those of others.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  27. Tyler

    You want to start talking about how 4-H *supposedly* desensitizes children, but it is actually the people like you who are blinded by their own ignorance. There is also a saying for people lke you "Ignorance is Bliss". We 4-Hers participate in these activities so that we can be better prepared for possibly enternig these job fields when we grow up. 4-H is much more than just raising livestock. 4-H is about "Making the Best better", and creating life-long memories in the process. Idiocy is a disease that can't be cured when ignorance is present.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  28. LoisR

    I was in 4-H for 10 years while growing up and it was one of the best experiences of my youth. In my club we did a lot of crafts and community service functions but I had plenty of friends who lived on farms and raised animals. The 4-H program does not work to desensitize kids about their feelings towards animals they raise. In 4-H I was given many leadership opportunities and they have served me well in my career. Great organization!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  29. Kevin

    Bring on the MEAT!... I was never in 4-H but my cousins in Alabama are and my aunt is a coordinator for her local club. I saw a live auction and slaughter by the time I was 7 years old. My grandfather owned a farm and raised livestock. There are harsh realities to the nature of our existence and eating animals is one of them. Humans ARE omnivores so get over it. Somebody has to do the dirty work to make life easy for those too lazy or scared to do it themselves. You're dreaming if you think the entire human race will become herbivores overnight... Even if they did, it would only thrust us further into environmental peril, as we eat all of the plants that provide us oxygen and provide food for other animals (that would become extinct in this case).

    IF YOU HAVE EVER EATEN MEAT, MEAT PRODUCTS OR USED ANYTHING THAT INVOLVED ANIMALS IN THE TESTING OR PRODUCTION, keep your criticism to yourself!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • dodger017

      I dont know how to tell you this, since many of you seem to use the same ignorant argument, but if we all became vegetarians we would eat LESS plant life because it takes more plant life to feed a farm animal than that farm animal produces in meat. If we all became vegetarians there would be MORE food and MORE oxygen Mr. Simple Mind.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
      • Annoyed.

        Clearly dodger, YOU are the ignorant one. As I've commented before: visit a farm and learn the truth about how animals are raised. The plant life that is used to feed farm animals is NOT the same plant life that humans can or do consume. Before you make accusations, learn the facts.

        June 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
      • Dave

        Not a huge fan of eating beef, its so tough and bad for you. I really prefer Veal. And rabbit. Venison is also good.
        God, I would kill for a hamburger right now! All this chatter has really got me jonesing for some Wendy's....

        June 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  30. Dave

    Where are all my fellow PETA members at?

    And by PETA I mean: People Eating Tasty Animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  31. meat eater

    the vegetarians are killing the kelp! oh the humanity!!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  32. Name*huck

    A nation of sensitive panzies who wouldn't last one week without the local grocery

    June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  33. Ryan Goodman

    To the people that claim we are cruel to raise animals, then eat them... You my friends are the uncivilized people who forgot where your food comes from, how your ancestors made a living, and who take so many things in life for granted. Ignorantly criticize Agriculture development and education programs all you want. Maybe someday you'll turn to eating food grown from a petri dish. I'm sure it'll satisfy for food welfare and safety concerns... oops, so much for my filter.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  34. Sarah Beth

    I can't even imagine how many people would starve if everyone were a vegetarian...

    June 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • dodger017

      That is because you are retarded. There would be a whole lot more food and a whole lot less starvation if everyone were vegetarian. Derrp

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

      They wouldn't starve so much as die of malnutrition. We can get the calories we need from plants pretty cheaply, but to get all the nutrients we need we'd need an extremely varied diet, which gets very expensive. Most Americans could afford it with a few sacrifices, but many third world nations would struggle.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Carnivore

      @Sarah
      Let's get together and eat meat! Then we can eat each other!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  35. vernon

    Get a life! If you want to be a vegetarian, be one but stop looking down your nose at the rest of humanity when we all do something perfectly natural -eating meat. I know it must be "incredibly fulfilling" to believe you are morally superior to virtually every human that's ever walked the planet. It must be great to be so enlightened, but give the rest of us a break. We'll respect your choice, you do the same or at least just shut up. Ad by the way, I was not "emotionally attached" to the chicken sandwich I had today. I'm not trying to "be cruel to vegetarians" as one responder put it. I just want people to think twice before using inflammatory language language with words like "cruelty" about the perfectly natural process of growing food.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  36. River

    This is total crap who comes up with this nonsence it's almost comical? Kids these day's are gonna grow up to be such cupcakes, computer games and soft dainty parents are killing this country!!

    June 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  37. Iowa 4-H Mom

    As a 4-H leader and the mother of two daughters, both of whom raise cattle, chickens, and sheep as part of their 4-H project, I have to say that I am stunned that anyone would think that our kids are being desensitized to the death of any living thing, much less animals. My daughters are two of the most compassionate young people around. They appreciate that the meat we eat was once a living animal because they raised the animal themselves!

    As parents it is up to us to teach our children the right way to go, and the opportunities presented in the 4-H program are but several tools we use to do just that.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  38. 4-H Leader

    As a 10 year member of 4-H taking both beef and sheep projects, and now a leader of our couty sheep club in Indiana. I truely feel that anyone that is against 4-H and doesn't allow their kids to be in it is doing a great injustice to their kids! I bought my steers in early fall and had them until July, yes they were my PETS! However, death is a part of life. Animals that are sent to a processing plant are killed in teh most humane way possible. Where as kids that sit and play HALO or Call of Duty are learning to kill in cold blood and hate each other.

    The livesetock 4-H project is meant to teach kids about everyday agriculture. And as long as you keep enjoying a nice big juicy steak, animals will keep providing that for you. Its a fact of life. 4-Her's learn early on about animal welfare.

    As an Ag Teacher for two years I took my animal science class on a field trip to a beef processing house. I learned that no matter what anyone thinks the kids need to see it. I had multiple kids tell me after the trip that it was nothing like they imagined. They could tell that the animal felt no pain during the kill process. The group of kids that I took was made up of mainly kids that lived in town and didn't have any experience with farms, sprinkled in with a few farm kids.

    The world is just overly sensitive to everything that goes on in the agriculture industry. And while everyone likes to eat no one wants to know where it comes from.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  39. Lisa

    Seriously people? The heart of America is in beef. Don't get me wrong, I don't approve of "high volume" slaughter houses, but farmers raise beef for quality – and FOOD. Just like chickens, fish, etc.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  40. brianNH

    Was this article put up just to see how many people would get annoyed about it? The writer is a complete loonie. To suggest that 4-H is for "desensitizing kids to killing" is just ludicrous. Where do you idiot bunny-lovers think the meat in the supermarket comes from. This drivel is straight from the PETA lunatics.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  41. itsjustme8921

    This is one of the stupidest articles ive seen on cnn, coming from rural florida my who family raises livestock for our family. There is an attachment to something that youve raised from a piglet no doubt, but you always know that you are raising it to be eaten and there is nothing wrong with that, it didnt make me a heartless monster, i have a dog and a cat of my own who I care for and would literally cry if they died. But somehow saying that raising your own animal to be eaten is unethical is ignorant, home raised animals have a much better and cleaner life than ones on a large commercial farm, and there is zero chance of catching mad cow or some other disease related to treatment of the animal or its meat when the animal is raised at home

    June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  42. Minnie

    The article might as well be titled, "Do Farms Desensitize Kids to Killing?" or "Do Pets Desensitize Kids to Killing?" The answer is an unabashed unashamed YES. There is no way you can raise animals of any kind, even dogs or cats, and not be aware that animals die. I remember the first time I had been exposed to death was when the family dog died. It awakened me to the fact that /all things die/.

    As a farm kid, it's more of a reality on a farm that animals die. Sometimes, animals die so that we can eat them. They are living things that are raised for a specific purpose. Dogs are raised for companionship, horses for transportation, and cows for beef. Farms give kids a way healthier outlook (in my opinion) on the nature of death and why things die.

    My husband is a vegetarian, and I respect the fact that he doesn't wish to partake in meat. He respects that I do. I've raised animals for 4-H and raising beef put me through my first two years of college. Meat has educated me, fed me, and helped me adjust to the simple fact that things die for a reason, and life goes on. I can't think of a better lesson to teach kids, honestly.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  43. Programmr

    If you ate any food today, you should thank a farmer.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  44. Donatello

    Ha! And all this time I thought 4-H club was some sort of pre-teen character building thing.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  45. UCFKnightman

    Wow...seriously? Ok...in order to eat you have to remove life from either plant or animal. The degree of "morality" is 100% arbitrary. Something must die for others to live, and simply people come first.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  46. ProHunting Cowgirl

    What is amazing to me is how people think this happend all of a sudden. The killing of animals for food has been going on for centuries. It does not DESENSITIZE children. I was raised in the 4-H lifestyle. I am an NRA, NWTF, TRA, and WITO member. For you that do not know those are hunting clubs. The animals I have killed I eat, same with the cattle we have raised, some we sell, and some we kill for meet. I do not feel densensitized, as I love animals (I have several, dogs, cats, horses, goats, cattle, chickens, turkeys), but killing for food is not wrong, nor will it ever be wrong. What is wrong is how children at my local elementry have no idea where burgers and chicken nuggets from McDonald's comes from. They don't know that a burger is cow meat, and chicken nuggets is actually chicken meat. To me that is densensitizing children. Not telling them or providing them the knowledge of where their food comes from.

    Seriously your taking on 4-H. A club that keeps children focused, busy, and out of trouble. So you would rather have them sitting on their tails in front of the tv/computer, or running around getting into trouble. What a cause you are on. How about you take up the cause of feeding all the hungry children in the USA with the meat from the cows that are sold at the 4-H auctions. I bet those children would not care how that cow felt, just that they have food on their plate.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  47. chuckk

    Durrrrrrrrrp. Seriously folks, where do ya think hamburger comes from? useless article

    June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  48. peteyjones

    alas; American Indians bred domesticated dogs because they didn't have anything else which could haul goods and property. Those dogs were their beloved pets; when the going got tough, those dogs also made a great meal. Why must we fret over such minute issues? Why must we call each other murderers and fools etc.? What does abortion have to do with this?...well more than one would think. What value does a human life have when it can be created in a test tube? Hell, what does "value" even mean? Throw away the subjectivity and realize that in order to substantively exist one must take an objective stance from a relative position. Sometimes I wonder what my dog would taste like in a good stew...is that wrong? Is it fair that through advanced medicine we allow our animals and grandparents to live well past their limited lifetime warranty creating even more complicated problems leading eventually to a quite miserable and prolonged death? May the world be engulfed in flames and our souls float through the time-space continuum so I can be rid of your stupidity. Good riddance.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • SoCalDave

      Take your meds...

      June 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  49. Jennifer

    As a 10 yr 4-Her, and now a 4-H Mom, I'd like to share that I feel that learning where food comes from and about the cycle of life is terribly important for my children. Living things are born, grow and then die. That's how it is. Every living being has a purpose. That's also a truth. I teach my children to care properly for their animals, and respect their sacrifice. How much food does your child waste? Do you think he or she would waste as much if they understood the work involved in producing it, if they raised some portion of that food themselves?

    4-H livestock projects are about learning important life lessons, like appreciating your food and other blessings, and about understanding the cycle of life and death. You can't shield them from the harder realities of life. And in learning the harsh things, you experience a great deal of beauty, too. These things balance out, in my experience.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
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