I hereby declare this week Paula Deen Week. Her culinary tastes may be questionable, but no one can debate that the woman has a rare knack for self-promotion. As a service to readers of Politics of the Plate, I plowed through dozens of commentaries on Deen’s announcement that she has diabetes, and have winnowed out three must reads.
Mother Jones’s Tom Philpott, a southern gentleman if there ever was one, avoids taking Deen to task personally and instead questions the efficacy and safety of the drug she is now shilling.
Writing on her own blog, Jane Black, who has staked out the nation’s obesity epidemic as her beat, sees Deen’s decision as a missed opportunity in the war on fatness.
And Regina Schrambling, who calls Deen the Liberace of lousy eating on Eater.com . . . well . . . no one can tear the hide off foodie fools and hypocrites as cleanly as the delightfully sharp-tongued Ms. Schrambling.
From Tom Philpott
I generally don’t believe in skewering people, even celebrities, for their health problems and/or how they deal with them. So at first I hesitated to join the chorus lambasting Paula Deen for waiting three years to disclose that she has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. But Deen’s stubborn insistance on using her Food TV forum to promote unhealthy food, and her long-time role as a paid shill for industrial-meat giant Smithfield, tempted me to comment on her announcement. (Evidence is mounting, by the way, that industrially raised meat contributes to diabetes risk.).
What pushed me over the edge was her debut this week as a spokesperson for pharma giant Novo Nordisk’s diabetes treatment Victoza. As Anthony Bourdain tweeted in response to the announcement, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Here, Deen isn’t making a private decision on how to treat an ailment; she’s turning her ailment into a quite-public revenue stream. And she’s broadcasting a clear message to her legion of fans: Eat all the junkie food you want, and don’t worry, because the pharmaceutical industry will bail you out.
In fact, Deen’s favored Big Pharma diabetes product might be as questionable as the meat she promotes. Read the rest at Mother Jones.com.
From Jane Black
It could have been a turning point in America’s war on obesity. This morning on the Today show, Food Network star Paula Deen—the queen of deep-fried Twinkies—admitted that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. But when asked whether fans should cut back on the “yummy, fattening” recipes she promotes, she told Al Roker: “Honey I’m your cook, not your doctor.”
Deen’s position is hardly a surprise. This is a woman known for fried chicken and broccoli “salad” that includes sugar, mayonnaise, cheese and bacon. Deen knows that even a mention of healthy, responsible eating could undermine her multimillion-dollar television-and-cookbook empire built on the glories sugar and lard.
Still, it was a grand disappointment. Read the rest at Jane Black.net.
The Deen Debacle (it’s way worse than a fail) at least makes me glad we get two print newspapers delivered every day. One, apparently going for the Food Network demographic, ran the usual “celebrity gets dire news, turns lemons into artificially-sweetened lemonade.” The other, targeted at investors who need actual information, reported on talking to mad men and getting a rousing “Give me a break!” if not a “WTF?”
This all feels like a flashback to those wondrous days when an unwed mother, whose own mother was marketed as competent to be vice president, merited mega-bucks to flack abstinence. America swallowed both those flagrant ruses. Why not the concept of a woman who got sick eating her own cooking suddenly shilling for a treatment? (And it is a $500-a-month treatment, definitely not a cure.)
The disclosure of the long-rumored disease was about as surprising as learning Ronald McDonald might really be John Wayne Gacy. And it’s no great shock that the Liberace of lousy eating is cashing in as the morning-after dispenser rather than the birth-control provider. Read the rest at Eater.com.