YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Exploiting cows for Pinterest-worthy pics, then serving beef for dinner?

October 24, 2013|By Alexandra Le Tellier
  • A cow in a pasture on the organic dairy farm owned by the Azevedo family, in the Merced County town of Stevinson.
A cow in a pasture on the organic dairy farm owned by the Azevedo family, in… (Los Angeles Times )

Farms are having a moment. Which, if you’ve gone to any weddings recently, is not news to you. For many a bride, her big day takes place in a rustic barn with a “farmhouse chic” decor that includes mint juleps served in mason jars. The ambitious bride even sticks her bridesmaids in cowboy boots.

“I never thought I’d see the day when … people would want country instead of country club for their wedding,” says Tony Azevedo, who turned his Central Valley farm into a wedding destination. Turns out, the trend-seeking urbanites are providing enough supplemental income to rescue dairy farmers from financial collapse.

“California’s dairy industry needs all the help it can get,” writes The Times’ Diana Marcum in Thursday’s Column One. “More than 100 farms went out of business last year alone. Dairy families are hoping that love can save the day by paying some of the bills.”

“Everybody,” Azevedo tells Marcum, “wants to get married in a damn barn and have their picture taken with a cow.”

While personally I think themed events are better suited to children’s birthday parties, I am glad farmers have found another way to make a living in this economic climate. But I wonder if they, or the wedding parties they host, ever cringe at the idea of exploiting the cows for Pinterest-worthy photos before serving beef for dinner?

“We Americans like to think of ourselves as animal lovers,” wrote Hal Herzog in a recent Op-Ed in our pages. “But is this claim true?” Taking on our “muddled thinking” when it comes to animals, he writes:

“The blatant inconsistencies in how we think about animals fly in the face of a fundamental psychological principle called ‘cognitive dissonance’ — the notion that simultaneously holding two inconsistent views creates mental discomfort. When confronted with information that conflicts with our beliefs, psychologists say, something has to give. We change our attitudes and behaviors or we distort and deny the incongruent facts.

“After studying human-animal interactions for three decades, I have concluded that it just doesn’t work that way for most people when they think about other species. We simply ignore the inherent paradox of loving the cats in our homes and eating the cows on our plates.”

This is not to say city folk shouldn’t have barnyard weddings among the cows. But they might want to reconsider the farm-to-table menu.


Keeping salmonella out of chicken

McManus: Poof goes the middle class

Outrageous payout for the 'pepper-spray cop': Fury we can agree on

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier and Google+

Los Angeles Times Articles