Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paula Deen Has Diabetes and the Judgement has Begun

'Paula Deen Enterprises' photo (c) 2010, HumongoNationphotogallery - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Okay, I am sure none of us were surprised when it was announced that Paula Deen has type II diabetes.  I have to admit that I am guilty of watching her show with a sort of voyeuristic pleasure.  Between the butter, oil, and mayo, her cooking is an extravaganza of everything, and I do mean everything that is just terrible for you. When Deen was on Oprah, she was asked specifically about the unhealthy nature of her food, and her response was, "I'm your cook, not your doctor."  I laughed because I recognized the truth of what she said.  Just because she can show you how to make certain meals, does not mean that you have to make it or consume it.

Deen has announced that she has no plans to change her lifestyle, and intends to partner with Novo Nordisk to create a website that focuses on managing diabetes and highlights the insulin injection Victoza.  Apparently, Deen uses this medication on a daily basis.  Diabetes is a killer and so the very idea of shilling medication, but not changing your lifestyle is offensive to me.  Just taking your insulin or medication, does not mean that you can escape the harm that diabetes is doing to your body.  I find her approach offensive and quite frankly irresponsible; however, I fully recognize that it is Deen's right to negotiate her illness as she feels fit. Furthermore, anyone who has diabetes has had a conversation with a doctor about the role of nutrition in managing their disease. 

Enter the king of arrogance and fat hated Anthony Bourdain.
And as news leaked she was making the announcement regarding her health, Bourdain was inundated with people "looking for quotes." And he says he "takes no pleasure" in her news, telling Eater.com, he suspects she's known for a long time and been looking for a way "to position herself."

"When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got Type 2 Diabetes ... It's in bad taste if nothing else," he said. "How long has she known? I suspect a very long time." (source)
There can be no doubt that one does not pull out a Paula Deen recipe for the good of one's health.  The key to this, as in all things in life is moderation.  Paula does not go from house to house forcing people to eat what she makes.  She doesn't even recommend her way cooking as something to be consumed on a daily basis.  

Despite the fact that Bourdain says that he takes no pleasure in the news, I doubt that this is the truth. For years he has gotten off on swilling his fat hatred and behaving like being the arrogant bad boy of the kitchen is something that all young chefs should aspire to be.  If you add this to the fact that he is a known misogynist, how can anyone really believe for one second that this is about his concern for society at large?

The greatest predictors of type II diabetes are genetics, race and class.  Obviously these are interlocking factors of causality.  If Bourdain were really concerned about diabetes and over all health, he would be talking about food deserts and the ridiculous privilege of the ruling class.  Nope, tackling the real culprit is just too much hard work, but it is certainly easy to speak out against a woman and blame her for the disconnect between food and health. 

How is what Deen doing any more unconscionable than any fast food corporation, or any company that makes pre packaged foods? How many deceptive labels have you read over the years of so called healthy products?  I'll say one thing, Deen's food may not be healthy, but at least you can pronounce every single ingredient in it, and that is far more than I can say for the many of the items on todays grocery store shelves.  Obviously, I am not advocating that one consume food loaded in butter and to deep fry mac n cheese, but I do have a problem with a single woman being set up to look like the great Satan so that others can sit in judgement of her, when several corporations are guilty of so much more.  

I further believe that lecturing people about what they consume, either through choice or necessity, does not actually solve a damn thing.  The appropriate method is to ensure that healthy options are available and to educate people about the food they consume.  There is also the fact that even people who are aware and would choose healthier options don't have the time to cook.  This issue is so much more complex than Paula Deen and all of this shame and finger pointing does nothing to create a positive change.  Finally, I fully believe that Paula Deen does have an agenda in partnering with this pharmaeceutical company, but that does not mean that Anthony Bourdain's hands are any cleaner.