The Lincoln County and Cabell Midland High School FFA and 4-H programs brought their meat products to the Pullman Plaza Hotel Friday, March 6, 2009, in what could be the program's last breakfast. In the meantime, a budding relationship between the two programs fosters teamwork and camaraderie. The undeniable smell of bacon (which by the way, smells exactly like human flesh) was the same as last year, and every table was filled with friendly people supportive of a good cause.
Friendly people? Excuse me... advocating the killing and eating of innocent animals... doesn't sound too "friendly" to me.
But unlike last year, an underlying somber mood permeated the room, as some realized that after 21 years the Ham, Bacon and Egg Show and Auction could be toast. (boo-hoo... anyone have a hanky?) Tighter West Virginia Department of Agriculture guidelines regulating educational based meat facilities is requiring the Cabell County Ham Bacon and Egg program (HBEP) to update its classroom at Cabell Midland High School to include meat processing. And that's going to cost a lot of money.It's always a curiosity that the industry defines blood letting as a "process". If the truthful word is that offensive perhaps they should eliminate the practice?
"Out of 30 educational based food sites, all were in compliance, besides Cabell County," Cabell County Farm Bureau Secretary and Treasurer Thelma Stickler said. Funding must be in place before the Cabell County Board of Education approves the construction of a new facility. The program requires students to purchase and rear an animal. The animal is
processedkilled and the meat cut. The HBEP Cabell Midland facility does not have a meat processing operation, which means the meat has to be transported from an Ona meat processing plant. "Moving the meat from one place to another creates a risk for meat contamination," Stickler said. The new classroom will be a meat processing operation and not a slaughterhouse, she said.
Now that's good news - that the classroom will not be a slaughterhouse. But a little field trip to witness how the "process" works is in the plan, I'm sure. And oh, the silly worries of meat contamination... can't seem to shake those pesky little bugs! It's almost like nature kind of attaches warning labels just to remind us that animals are not "food".
The program needs $382,000 before October 2009, or this will be the first skipped breakfast in more than 20 years. Some of the students have donated proceeds from their products to the building fund, Stickler said. She is impressed with the students who are in the program, praising their work ethic, which requires them to often give up their weekends and weeknights to bring their product from the field to the auction.
They are bringing "their product" from the field to the auction???... You mean these kids are caring and raising the animal. That's what 4H does right? Children tend to living animals... Beside the obvious needs of shelter, food and water... they groom the animal, comb them, and perhaps even "pet" them. Of course the animal and the child bond... to hear otherwise would be unnatural. Often, the experience ends in heartbreak, tears and despondence.
4H officials, and old pros at this slaughtering business advise that "the first one is the hardest" and that kids will "get used to the *process*". Hey kid! You wanna make money don't ya? Don't want to wuss out and go all girly on us - do ya? The others are doing it... why can't you? What pressures for a kid. It's cruel, like everything else about the meat pushers.
Animal agriculture wants us to hear of the dedication - the "high ground" of the current and future "farmers" who provide safe (wholesome) and abundant *meat products*. I agree that a strong work ethic is to be commended... however, I vehemently challenge the "ethics" of the work... or the healthiness of dead animal flesh...
Just like that. Kids buy a pig and take it to the slaughterhouse? But didn't the article just brag on their dedication? Giving up free time to tend to the pig? The administrators in 4H would have us believe that the kids just see the animal as a widget. Gosh, the kids I know see all sorts of special qualities in each individual animal... Kids identify with the uniqueness and specialness of a particular animal. They might gravitate to one because she's extra friendly, or cute, or shy, or smart... or funny. But animal agriculture wishes us to believe that it's only the body proportions the kids focus on. No need to look in her eyes - It's her fanny they're after... (right)...
"Students purchase an animal and take it to the meat processing and packing plant."
After the meat is cut, the student gets two hams and two bacons. (yep... 2 butts - just like we have) They calculate the salt ratio and do a salt cure. After a drying process, the meats are cured from the salt. After the salt cure, the meat is trimmed so they have a uniform shape. After that final trim, they go into to a smoke house and are smoked for about half of a day.Students polish their bacon and ham and they are judged to see who has done the best trimming and the best cure, and who has picked the best animal with the largest hams.
I bet almost anything these kids would rather pet a live pig than "polish" a dead ham... and if not, you've made them monsters in your own image.
The free enterprise exercise creates opportunities for students to learn real world marketing - (Yep... this little piggy went to the market all right) and business skills. Allison Robinson has been participating in the HEBEP for about 11 years. Her ham was declared a "grand champion ham" at the 2009 show. (Wow)... The Marshall University freshman, majoring in sports marketing with a minor in broadcasting, credits the program for preparing her for her major. "I liked the public relations part of the program because it allowed me to talk to people," Robinson said. (she likes human people... but treats animal people like commodities) Robinson's experience paid off. Her ham brought $1,000 at the auction Friday. (I know this might sound suspicious here... but I've been to auctions - and I can spot a shill. It's also perfectly logical in their motivation... Put some irrationally high price tag on a dead animal part to show the kids that this is where their fortune is to be made... I see right through it and it's sickening.) The Lincoln County FFA Vice President Brittney Kiser appreciates the friendships and teamwork created between Cabell Midland program and Lincoln's. "We're best friends. We do everything together," she said. "We help each other with the Ham Bacon and Egg program, and also work together for the Cabell County Fair. We take all of our FFA trips with Cabell Midland," Kiser said. Cabell Midland student Fallon Black sees the relationship as mutually beneficial, with her school nurturing Lincoln's young FFA program. "We've taken them under our wing. They are our partners in crime," Black said.
"Partners in crime"... finally calling it like it is: "murder".The new meats facility is projected to cost about $1 million to build, with about $600,000 already donated. A fundraiser is set for March 16 at the Steak and Shake in Barboursville. To donate...
To the 4H groups and all the kiddy animal agriculture programs... Your ilk encourages children to become desensitized. Your animal raising/animal killing lessons numb a future generation from ever connecting with the value and sanctity of life. It spoon feeds them violence and disrespect for beings who have a right to live, regardless of the profits (or tastiness) of their flesh. It normalizes a cruel and unnecessary act.
A wonderful way to raise funds and encourage responsibility for kids is to follow suit in what thousands of schools are now doing. Creating small gardens, planting seeds that nourish in more ways than one. $20 worth of seeds can generate $300 in veggies - without pig poop and without traumatizing kids! And if you think it doesn't matter... that these kids will outgrow the discomfort of the "process" - Stay tuned... I have personal insight of a 40 year old pig farmer who recently opted to be vegan - And that's a story I'll be happy to tell.