I’m on a panel for the NYAS’s conference on Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Opportunities for Self-Reflection and Action, June 24-25. Location: 7 World Trade Center. 250 Greenwich St, 40th Floor. Information and registration are here. My panel is on the 25th at 10:45 a.m. , Session VI: Hot topic discussion: getting to the truth in nutrition science. Other panelists are Mona Calvo fro Penn State, Mehmood Khan from Life Biosciences, and Linda Van Horn from Northwestern. Moderator is Julia Belluz from Vox.
Weekend reading: Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids
Kiera Butler. Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids & How its Lessons Could Change Food & Farming Forever. University of California Press, 2014.
Kiera Butler usually writes for Mother Jones (her latest is about how McDonald’s markets to kids) but this time took on an investigative reporter’s immersion into the world of 4-H, the venerable youth-mentoring program aimed at “growing confident kids.”
Although the program’s website says “4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System & USDA,” you have to look hard to see how it relates to its farming origins.
Butler follows several individual 4-H members, young teenagers, who are deeply engaged in raising and showing animals at county fairs. She follows their experiences for a year and observes their demonstrable growth in skills, confidence, and the handling of disappointment. These are the impressive accomplishments of this program.
But she is also well aware of the many contradictions of 4-H: the high cost of participation, its lack of racial and ethnic diversity, its promotion of the values of industrial agriculture, the divide between urban and rural members, and the surprising lack of attention to what agriculture is about and its importance to the economy and society.
Her conclusion: 4-H needs to be challenged to promote critical thinking about agriculture.
Raise is a good read and is thoroughly convincing about the need for such thinking.