Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food Revolution Friday: For Paula Deen on Diabetes

Paula, I have to admit, I had never looked at your site or seen you on TV until I heard you have type 2 diabetes.  I’m sorry about that, by the way – diabetes is rough.  My husband was diagnosed awhile ago and while we didn’t have to make that many changes in our eating habits, judging from your site, you’ve likely had to give yours a complete overhaul.   I mean really, you can’t possibly be eating deep fried cheese cake, butter, or that macaroni and cheese you whip up.  I hear that you are cutting back on sweet tea, getting more active, and starting on medication.

I don’t begrudge you, honestly.  I know it’s a tough world out there, and you’ve done a good job carving out a niche for yourself and made a lot of money doing it.  Celebrity chefs these days all need a ‘thing’, and yours seems to be the queen of indulgence.  Shock value food sadly has a place these days, so your deep fried lasagna or butter really isn’t any different than things featured on shows like “Man vs Food” or “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.”  Besides television, there’s no shortage of deep fried kool-aid balls at any county fair, and I haven’t forgotten KFC’s Double Down.  There’s a market.  You’ve helped fill it – because honestly, if there was no demand for your kind of food, you wouldn’t be selling it, right?

When the news of your illness first broke, I thought the critics were being unreasonable.  Chefs are not role models, they are artists in a way – using food as materials to create new flavors and to discover methods, so why should they be restricted by what may be deemed healthy?  I myself love to play with ingredients and come up with things that are delicious, but not necessarily good for you. I wanted to give you a pass, really I did, until I went to your site.

There, you talk about cutting back on sweet tea and now your sons have a TV show with conveniently lighter food, you hock medication, but that’s not what caught my eye, Paula.  Nope, it was the ‘kid – friendly’ section of recipes.  After all, providing parents with recipes to feed their children are, in some way, a responsibility.  If the parents are looking to those of us who can cook to show them what is good for their kids, we need to take that seriously and try to give them food that is reasonably nutritious. Of the 85 recipes listed, half of them are desserts.  Many are ridiculously high in fat and use processed ingredients, and as I flipped through them, I began to feel sad. 

It’s really hard to take someone seriously when their kid friendly food features things like chocolate fudge made with processed cheese or crackers topped with cheese and wrapped in bacon. Seriously, Paula?  Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents in the USA are obese, and these are the snacks you are offering?   

The time for shock value food is over.  You have a platform to create real change, if not for you, at the very least, for them.  Diabetes type 2 is serious, and one can’t take care of it just by cutting back on the amount of chocolate cheese fudge they eat and pop some pills. Right now, you are looking pretty opportunistic and not credible in the least, in my eyes.

You can do better. 

If not for yourself, at least for the parents who are making your recipes for their children. 

(I purposely didn't link to the recipes, because I don't want to give them more traffic.)

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