I just recently took a shot at Paula Deen in a post praising Jamie Oliver. That was just before the fact that she has Type II Diabetes was released and the ensuing media storm has made me take a hard look at the insinuation I made that she was somehow not a good person. I based that opinion and comment not on my own personal knowledge of the woman, for I’ve never met her, but through what could very well be a misguided opinion of her gleaned from watching her shows and listening to feedback from fans that have seen her in person. The people that I talked with that went to her show in Roanoke lately had very negative things to say – but I must retract the insinuation that she is somehow not a good person. I don’t know the lady, so who am I to say anything about her on a personal level. I do know that she has supposedly overcome a lot of adversity to be where she is today.
The media storm is somewhat amusing; especially on the Today show this morning. Various talking heads were assuming different takes on her announcement in light of the fact that she has for years lauded butter, fat, sugar and high calorie recipes. One such talking head kept insisting that she is the face of America, that she represents who we are. Another pundit continued to insist that Paula has had the responsibility to warn her viewers that a diet based on the recipes that she cooked on her many shows could lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Especially amusing was Anthony Bourdain’s typically snarky response. His disdain for most other celebrity chefs is well documented and a large part of his image. Yet, he is a blatant and outspoken fan of pork fat and all things decadent. We’ve known for a long time that pork fat isn’t particularly good for us, so is it OK to promote pork fat while taking shots at Paula?
Following this train of thought makes me wonder, do celebrity chefs have the responsibility to warn us that their food, if eaten to excess, could kill us? We have warning labels on everything from alcohol to cigarettes to fast food: Must we add them to butter? How much protection do we need from ourselves and is it necessary?
Personally, I think we should simply exercise more common sense. I enjoy roasted suckling pig more than anything in the entire world, but I don’t eat it every day! I have noticed a trend of celebrity chefs moving towards more healthy recipes – even Emeril has launched a healthy recipe campaign after years of touting fatty recipes. Is this due to conscience or to demand? I know I generally stop watching a show after the hosts move toward healthy recipes. It’s just not much fun to watch someone wilt spinach or bake a fish.
We are as human beings genetically hard wired to like foods that are high in calories. We, after all, are ice age creatures that evolved in an environment short in food and high in physical demands. Personally, I don’t feel that the chefs have a responsibility to warn us that their food is bad for us. I think it’s a little scary we as a culture don’t possess enough common sense and responsibility to take control of our own actions. What next: Are fat people going to sue the food network for a lack of warning labels? Maybe I have a case!