You’re teaching my daughter WHAT in health class???

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

What started out as a nice family meal out at one of our favorite fried chicken stops, turned into a conversation that had me boiling like the oil that cooked our supper that night.

My 6th grade daughter began telling us about her day. Part of her studies for this quarter included a health class. I have to admit as a protective father the thought of what she might learn in health class scares me just a tad, but never in my wildest imagination did I think she would learn something like what she was about to tell me.

Her health teacher loaded up a video that was called “Food, Inc.”! My heart literally stopped for a second, although that might have been a bit of the fried chicken’s fault too, but that’s beside the point.

She went on to tell me, muffled by a chicken leg between her teeth, that many of the girls after class said that they would never eat meat again and felt so bad for the animals in the film. I was appalled and wrote this letter to the health teacher and the school principal.

Good Afternoon,

Over dinner last night, my daughter brought up that her health class curriculum included viewing the “documentary” “Food, Inc.”

As a member of Ohio’s agriculture community and a very proud grandson of a farmer, I was disheartened to hear that this misleading, propaganda-filled movie was part of a health class curriculum.

I was hoping for some insights on why this anti-agriculture biased film was part of a health class? Is it the intention of the local schools to teach kids that all of America’s hard working farmers are bad and that animal proteins are not healthy?

These 6th grade students are very impressionable and I am in complete disagreement that such a movie is part of any class, unless there were an opportunity for actual farmers to share what really happens on family farms, which make up 97% of farms in this country and just how safe and healthy animal protein is to consume. I can arrange that if you would like.

I feel that if we are teaching our children to come to conclusions about certain societal issues, they should hear both sides of the argument.

I truly value the education that my daughter receives and I thank you both for the time you spend with her and all of your students. My only concern is about showing them documentaries that are one-sided and agenda-driven against something that is so important for people in my world and the world as a whole.

I look forward to your response and I thank you for your time,



The first response I got was from the teacher, who wrote:

By no means was this meant to be that at all. We talk about how the companies place things into our foods without us even knowing it… We looked at it from the food safety side, as well as what it means when things are organic products (grass fed; no antibiotics, and hormone free)…

Totally agree — We talk about what the corporations have done to the farming industry and all the power they have; in fact we talked about in the video where the natural farmer raises his on all grass and not corn and the differences between the two.

By no means was this a push for me to say that farming is bad. I was raised in eastern central Ohio in a rural community and support farming 100 percent.  Appreciate all the hard working farming communities.  

I would love to have someone speak to our health classes… If you or someone you know would come and speak to our kiddos as that would be great!

And I responded back:

Our food safety system is one of the (if not the) safest in the world. With a huge urban population (only 1.5% of our society is farmers) that is not a small feat. Although I think there is room for all types of agriculture, including grass fed and organic, these methods are not sustainable with the amount of food needed. No meat that is sold in stores has antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to keep in livestock to keep them healthy, but there is a period before production that an animal is taken off the antibiotics.

As for labels, I think that today’s labels are made simply for marketing and that should be part of your curriculum as well, i.e. “hormone-free” pork or poultry (hormones are never used in these animals).

Then I got a phone call from the principal. Before he called me, he watched a few clips of “Food, Inc.” on YouTube and he sounded just as upset as I was about this type of film being shown inside the walls of his school.

He assured me that he realized this video was not meant for teaching students about food, but for scaring them into not eating it. He was by no means a part of agriculture, he admitted, but a generation or two before him were farmers and he knew the importance of telling ag’s side of the story.

That is exactly what will be happening from now on at this particular middle school. He has already contacted me since to see if I knew of some local farmers that would want to stop by to share what they do every day to keep our community, our nation and our world fed.

Just so happens, I know a few of them.

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  1. Great Job Ty, keep up the good work, Someone in this country MUST tell the TRUTH about food !!!

  2. Thank you for standing up and saying something!

  3. Thank you for for taking notice of what your child is hearing at school. All parents need to be proactive with their child’s education. Thanks for speaking up and keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Steve. Turns out that are showing this at my Alma Mater as well. I see a trip to Johnstown in my near future!

  4. Thanks Ty for all you do. Coming from a family of school teachers the hardest decision we made was taking Gabby out of school to homeschool her. I am so glad we did, although some teachers do not as Gabby is too independent for someone her age. She is now split between school and homeschool. The problems of teaching our children one sided ideas use to be a city school problem, but it is now an issue in rural schools. Far too many parents do not want to stand up and sadly that leaves a few of us who look like the minority. On the ag side far too many farmers do not understand how important it is to get involved and speak up. Not just on the school side. Open your farm up to your city friends and their friends and educate them about what you really do. Invite them out for a ride in the tractor and combine, some want to but are afraid to ask. It may slow your day down and you are already under pressure to hurry up, but it will be worth it. Too many farming or close to farming assume that everyone already knows about farming. Sorry Ty, off my soap box now. Fyi our reason for homeschooling was cramped classes and as a few teachers and others have said “all you wanted to do was brainwash your child into your values” Yep and it worked.

  5. Thanks Jim! Hope all is well up your way!!

  6. Go get em Ty. That’s way I am thankful for Ag Net and Ag Broadcasters the world over.

  7. Ty, We have to be so diligent today to be informed what they are teaching in school, but pumping into all forms of media.. I will never forget when Pat and I were in the service in New York City and heard on the news milk prices were going up for the dairyman. The next day in the grocery we heard someone comment that was no big deal as they got their milk in the grocery!! A couple of years ago I heard that same statement made in a grocery in Wapakoneta!!! We had not been proactive in telling our side of the story – I still can’t believe we did nothing about how rBST does not get into the milk as hormones are specie specific. Very good article by Dr. Don Sanders on this very subject. I am so glad we have you folks helping us to get that message out there, we just need to tell more to the non-agriculture people. Think what gmo foods have done. I ask people do you eat apples and if so what do you thing Johnny Appleseed did many, many years ago. He did a lot of grafting and that has led to a lot better apple today!! Too bad we live so far away or I would offer to come to talk. Keep up the good work Ty

  8. Hi Sam! Great to hear from you and I think we are getting better at speaking up, but we still have a lot of work to do. Say Hello to Pat. I might swing by when I am up that way. I’ll look for the Scarlet and Grey!!

  9. You may want to get an RD or two to go with you to speak to the students about the importance of balanced diets since this was in a health class. I’d be glad to help you find someone if you need a good lead or two.

  10. Thank you Ty for taking a stand against this I am a proud farmer who works about 17 hours a day just keeping the farm going and I am apart of the FFA and we need to teach more kids about farming and agriculture.

  11. MIsinformation and lack of education is evident in Ohio government also. Somehow the ODA food safety people think wine is a food safety hazard. There is no history of food safety issues and wine kills human pathogens. The licensing and regulation is also duplicate of the same activity in liquor codes. Also wineries from elsewhere do not have the same licensing and regulation for food safety and that discriminates against our own wineries and winegrowers in Ohio. Search for FreeTheWineries for more information.

  12. I am just as – if not more – concerned about the humane treatment of animals. If they are crowded into pens and not able to move and live as they are meant to, I will not purchase those meat products. Animals who are grass fed and pasture raised do not get sick and do not need antibiotics. The fact that you use antibiotics tells me your animals are not being humanely raised. I am from Georgetown, Ohio and value farmers. But there is a way to do it humanely and provide healthier meat.

    • We raise grass-fed and pasture raised cattle, and they do get sick. I have no clue where you get the idea that they don’t. We aren’t certified organic, because organic farms that treat them with the necessary antibiotic have to move them, or sell them, to a conventional operation.

    • Are you humanely kept?? Have you ever used antibiotics? What about your children? Have you raised them humanely? Given them antibiotics when needed?? Or a dog or cat or other pet?? Perhaps you should learn more about basic biology before telling people you don’t even know that they inhumanely give their animals proper care… also, guessing the people involved in cattle rearing know more about the proper procedures, care and legal requirements of their farms than you!

    • Kathryn, it is within the farmers’ best interests to treat their animals humanely, i.e. appropriate living conditions, diet, and treatment. When an animal is sickly, mistreated, or abused, farmers will be unable to use the animal or produce as much from it. So, it is a bad idea to mistreat them from a financial standpoint. Also, farmers are not heartless beasts that slaughter innocent animals to sell their flesh. Most see these animals as what they are – beautiful creatures that deserve protection and a happy life. They raise them for food because they respect both the animal and what they give to us. Therefore, farmers try their best to ensure their animals’ health and care is the best it can be.

      Building off of that, the diet, living conditions, and treatment of these animals are meant to make sure they are healthy and happy. Farmers DO NOT intentionally mistreat, poison, or deprive the animals of things necessary for life, i.e. space. At the same time, they have no desire to poison us, the consumers, or release harmful food onto the market. This also makes sense financially, as they could be shut down or consumers would become wary of their product, but also because they would be putting humans in danger. Therefore, antibiotics and other such medicines are used so as not to endanger either man or beast.

      Finally, if an animal is being raised for its meat, farmers will ensure the animal’s death is painless and humane. The animal will not suffer, because if it does the meat will be affected (Is this correct, Wayne?). Again, it is within the farmers’ best interests that the animal is happy and healthy, but also that the meat is safe to consume.

      ——-To Becx Payumo:——– Those insults were unnecessary. If you want to prove a point, use facts and respond in a calmly manner. People will not listen if you destroy them, and they will be even more opposed to the topic after reading an insulting post. Even I was angered by your post, and I share your view on the topic of farms. At least, I think. It was hard to tell what your point even was (not a good thing). It might be a good idea to do a little research into good argumentative strategies. Remember, the goal of a discussion is to explain your view while respecting the opposition. Even online.

  13. Žarko Radulović

    Just wanted to say thanks for fighting against fear and missinformation.
    What you did is something that’s in front of me, since i see what kind of ‘science’ my kid will be learning about in her school. It pains me greatly, because i’m a food tech. engy, and i struggle daily to explain to people that no, i do not put poisons in their cheese or baloney.

    Kudos to you

  14. Love this article!! Thank you for standing up to the system!
    Also, your bio makes me smile… I was a pre-professional ballerina in my day, and a stage actress who was lucky enough to get my dad involved in community theatre. Some of my best memories are of this time and the support he always showed. Whether he was in town or not, he always made sure I got a beautiful bouquet for my performances. Keep up the good work (and also, where can I see the pics??!?)!

  15. i think it was right to show that in class and go over what goes on in the states the bad and the good, that is a awesome documentry and shows the bad shit that goes on in the states with how people treat animals and such so stop being pussies

  16. So you don’t want you child to learn any bad things that are in the world, or educate them on the facts behind the foods we eat? I would love to hear your suggestions of what to teach students about nutrition, and don’t tell me how to eat healthy because that is what this film is showing (parts of it) on why we have become obese and how to know if our foods are healthy which includes where they come from.

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