Paula Deen Is Not the Problem

Why is everyone vilifying Paula Deen? Did I miss her announcement that she was supposed to be a pinnacle of health and wellness, and  that people should eat what she was cooking on her show if they wanted to improve their physical well-being? Because that’s really the only way this whole backlash over her recent announcement she has Type II diabetes makes any sense. It’s a cooking show, not a healthy lifestyle show. I don’t recall ever hearing this woman tout the health benefits of her cooking.

If anyone watched her show and seriously thought “Wow, she is the picture of fitness and health I aspire to,”  the very least of our problems is Paula herself.

Do I think it would have been great if she had, instead of becoming a spokeswoman for a diabetic medication, decided to change her diet and lifestyle and share that on her show? Sure, that would be great.  But, it’s not what she gets paid to do. It’s her personal life–she has no obligation to share what changes she is or is not making with the rest of the world. There is power in celebrity, but just because there is power, there is no obligation to expose your life for the “greater good.” We all have things we struggle with, and we certainly don’t all open each and every one of those personal things up to the rest of the world. Simply because she is a celebrity is no reason for us to expect her to do so, either.

Paual Deen is not a menace to society. She’s a woman who gets paid to cook interesting things on television, end of story. The problem is that people are sitting on their arses watching that much TV in the first place, that our nutrition education is horrible, that we feed our kids appallingly bad foods that set them up for obesity and type 2 diabetes, and that our food system is so broken it’s hard to know where to begin fixing it. These things are menaces to society. That our nutrition education system is so poor that someone would watch a cooking show hosted by a clearly-overweight woman using ingredients that are often very unhealthy and think “Gee, I bet that’s good for me,” is a menace to society.

If one cooking show host is more powerful than our nutrition message in this country, then it’s not the show host that is the problem, folks.

Turn off the TV, go to the gym, and the come home and cook a healthy dinner. Then, volunteer at a school garden, help your elderly neighbors cook a meal, ask your sister to go for a walk, write your representative about GMO/GE labeling, plant a garden, Occupy Monsanto. Do something, for heaven’s sake, to counteract this woman’s influence, if you really think she’s that big of a problem.  See, Paula Deen crisis averted.

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13 responses to “Paula Deen Is Not the Problem

  • mkultra76

    What a refreshing dose of common sense!! Thanks!

  • tristen faith

    Amen, sister!!!

  • Stacie

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility in the country, anyway? We get angry that Paula Deen cooks with too much butter. So what? The question should be, do I cook with too much butter?
    Great post, thanks!

    • shwankie

      Stacie, exactly! And those who we most worry about being at risk (those living in poverty, food deserts, etc.), aren’t exactly Paula’s key demographic.

  • Catherine Seiberling Pond

    Too funny–we had the exact same title for our blog post with more or less the same conclusions! Bravo to you. More foodies are speaking out in favor of her. It was an unnecessary bashing. She is the messenger.

    All best, Catherine Pond

    • shwankie

      Thanks, Catherine! I’d wanted to get this up Monday, but already had two posts go live that day, and yesterday I went dark for the SOPA protest.

      I just read your great post (and now I have your blog, which I’m loving)! As you mention, after the first wave of Paula-bashing, I’m glad to see more foodies get on board with defending her, and redirecting the blame to more appropriate causes.

  • Kim

    A-freaking-men. Thank you.

  • Cristina

    It seems a shame to me to brand Ms. Deen the Devil Incarnate when even the ADA–American Diabetic Association–has no clue how to educate the millions of American diabetics on how and what to eat to keep their disease under control. I am speaking as a diabetic (diagnosed in 2009) living in Mexico, where the incidence of diabetes is even greater than that in the United States.

    It took me months of Internet investigation after diagnosis to figure out what I personally needed to do to control my diabetes and still eat well. My personal physician, an otherwise excellent doctor, had absolutely no idea how to tell me what foods to choose for daily consumption. His initial advice was, “Don’t drink soft drinks, no jams, stay away from candy, try not to eat sweet breads, keep your tortilla input as low as possible.” Well, nice try, but no cigar.

    Many if not all of the successfully controlled diabetics I know–diabetics who have lost excess weight and lowered their blood glucose levels to normal levels–eat all meats–including beef, pork, chicken, etc. We eat fats in the form of butter, lard, margarine, and oils of all kinds. We eat piles of green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, green beans, and all other kinds of leafy stuff, as well as cauliflower and some other veggies. We eat limited amounts of other vegetables, things like carrots, beets, peas, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables that are high in carbohydrates.

    Notice what’s missing in that list? Yep: refined and not-so-refined carbohydrates. I choose not to eat breads, rice, other cereals, potatoes, large amounts of beans, all sugars, and other comestibles that I have discovered will spike my blood sugar to unhealthy and unacceptable levels.

    The American Diabetes Association recommends a completely different regime, one that allows certain amounts of both unrefined and refined carbohydrates. That diet is largely unsuccessful for many if not most diabetics. The ADA does not adequately educate people with the disease, much less adequately educated doctors and other practitioners who come into daily professional contact with people who desperately need their help.

    I have lived outside the USA for many, many years. I don’t know Paula Deen, I don’t know much about what she cooks and I know nothing about what she actually eats. I have never seen her show, her books, nor have I any knowledge of what products she endorses. I had to Google her to see what all the fuss was about.

    Food and the culinary world are my professional bailiwicks. I will say this: if we believe that every chef, celebrity or not, eats *only* what he or she cooks, sells, and is famous for, we are naive beyond hope.

    Go ahead and brand Ms. Deen the Devil Incarnate, though, if it makes you feel better. But in my opinion, you’d be wrong.

    • shwankie

      Thanks, Cristina! I agree, Paula Deen is not some evil woman–she’s simply a woman who has a TV cooking show. There are far, far bigger fish in the sea of “societal menace,” like Monsanto, the USDA, the ADA…the list goes on. All of these have influence and reach that makes Paula Deen look like an extra in the background of a B movie.

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  • Chef Stu

    It is always easier to blame someone else for you own problems. It is a very sad commentary that people look for a scape goat. Paula Deen has not tied people down and force fed them. This is like blaming Mc Donalds for having unhealthy food. What ever happened to ones own will power, the last I heard we all have brains please feel free to use them.

    • shwankie

      Chef Stu, thank for commenting. It’s just so disheartening to think that Paula Deen is what everyone is focusing on as the “Biggest menace to our society” in relation to food and health. It just diverts attention from the real issues, the real culprits, the real changes that need to happen.

  • Betty

    It makes no difference that Paula has type II Diabetes. Her recipes taste good and no one makes you eat what she cooks! If you don’t feel it is healthy to eat those meals, don’t follow her recipe…adjust it to make it what you want it to be. Get over it people and get a life!!!

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