I've been getting a lot of flak for my comments on Paula Deen. Healthy eating is an important topic to me, so I thought I'd clear up my perspective in more than 140 characters.
To answer a few of the questions I was asked on Twitter: No, I have nothing against Southern cooking. Nor do I have an issue with the occasionally indulgent meal (I think of Joe's Pizza on Bleecker in NY as a temple to all that is good in this world). But when your signature dish is a hamburger and bacon inside a god-damned donut, you're out of control.
I was troubled by the number of people who wrote to me and told me that diabetes is "just genetic," and that "I need to get educated." While genetics play an undisputed role in type-2 diabetes, diet is such an overwhelming contributing factor that it's utterly irresponsible to ignore. The facts are clear: 80-90% of people with type-2 diabetes are overweight.
Here's another fact: More than a third of Americans are also overweight, including 17% of children. There is a tidal wave of obesity drowning this country and I believe that people like Deen are part of the problem. Through her Food Network show, her books, and her website, she reaches millions of families and could be a powerful educational force for nutrition (Kudos, Jamie Oliver). Instead, Deen has gone on record saying that she couldn't live without a deep fryer and has openly stated that healthy food is too expensive for most Americans.
Instead of preaching prevention, Paula Deen held back the announcement of her diagnosis for three years while continuing to endorse ultra high-fat recipes to the public. Today she proclaimed that her diabetes will not change the way she cooks and has secured a deal as a paid spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the big pharmaceutical company that manufactures her diabetes medication. A new Paula Deen website on diabetes is sponsored and run by the drug company and Deen will be appearing in a commercial campaign later this month. Fellow chef Anthony Bourdain reacted to this hypocrisy by tweeting, "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."
Last week "statins" were in the news. It turns out that women who take these "miracle" cholesterol-lowering drugs are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. The message is clear: You can't medicate your way around eating nothing but shit. While there are measurable benefits to these types of medications, they shouldn't be endorsed by celebrities as a solution. Especially since none of these drugs are keeping our kids from turning into a nation of Augustus Gloops.
In interviews today, Deen is claiming that she's always preached moderation, which is, of course, nonsense. She may use the "m" word once and a while, but unabashed, gluttonous, unhealthy eating is at the core of her brand. She's whipped up a buttery, heavy-cream empire, peddling gastronomical abominations like a ham casserole filled with soggy potato chips, a cheeseburger meatloaf, and chocolate-cheese fudge. She is, in short, the Dr. Moreau of the culinary world; a soccer-mom Frankenstein with more than a passing resemblance to Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Last week I watched her deep fry stuffing on a stick and half expected her to strap an electrode to it and hit it with a bolt of lightening.
I feel sad that she's been diagnosed with diabetes and outraged that she isn't harnessing her bully pulpit to address a national epidemic. I make no apologies for the bad taste she leaves in my mouth.
It's probably from something she cooked.