In Defense of Paula Deen

I’m sure y’all have heard by now that Paula Deen has diabetes. It’s all over the news. People are pissed. I’ve seen media “correspondents” (who are these people who are allowed to throw stones all over the place?) calling her “outrageous” and demanding apologies to the public. WHAT? Why?


Know what? I’m just gonna say it. I like Paula Deen and I DON’T CARE. I don’t care that my girl Paula cooks food that is bad for her/everyone; I don’t care that she kept her diabetes a secret; I don’t care that she is now doing an endorsement deal with a diabetes pharmaceutical company.

Is a lot of her food hilariously bad for you? Sure is. Does she blatantly ignore nutritional guidelines? Yep. If you cook and eat a ton of her recipes on a regular basis, are you doing your health a disservice? You better believe it.

But guess what, Food Network viewers! The onus is on YOU! If you think Paula Deen’s recipes are unhealthy, don’t cook and eat them. If you think her lifestyle is appalling, don’t watch her show. The fact that Paula has diabetes may be linked to her eating habits, great. Frankly, her health is her business. Anthony Bourdain may say she’s “in bad taste,” but honestly, how is her admitting to diabetes and hawking meds really affecting any of us? Nobody was “betrayed” by her cooking shows, as some people have claimed. She’s neverĀ representedĀ herself as an athletic, fit person. Paula Deen’s admission of her diagnosis doesn’t give you a free pass to eat poorly, then complain and point fingers.

Even here at Endless Simmer, we delight in writing about alarmingly extreme foods. I highly doubt any of our readers think we constantly pig out on all of our ridiculous culinary discoveries, or that we encourage anyone else to. We’re all smarter than that, right?

This is just like people who try to sue fast food companies for their health issues. Let’s take some personal responsibility, please. If you honestly think it’s okay to eat burger-stuffed doughnuts three meals a day, that is 100% your problem, not Paula Deen’s.

(image: eater.com)

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  • Joanna January 25, 2012  

    Well put! Bravo!

  • Sarah January 25, 2012  

    I couldn’t agree more. Thank you..!!

  • Gayle January 25, 2012  

    Thank you for finally offering something about this subject that makes sense. Americans are so willing to lay blame for their problems at anyone’s feet but their own. I grew up in the South and many of her dishes were already staples I had grown up with. But we didn’t eat them every day. No one drives you to McDonald’s and forces a Big Mac down your throat. I LOVE to have the occasional over-the-top food, but I don’t eat them every day. If you’re too dumb to eat vegetables, exercise, and use these fatty, rich foods as treats that’s your problem.

    And one more thing. You’re right about turning off the TV if you don’t like the content. People watch a variety of reality TV shows with content that’s far more alarming than Paula Deen’s (Hoarders, Toddlers & Tiaras, etc) but why is filling your brain with that stuff any worse than filling your belly with a fat bomb?

  • shelly January 25, 2012  

    Well said!

  • Kitzie May January 25, 2012  

    Amen Emily! Paula Dean isn’t shoving anything down anyone’s throat. If anything her coming out about Diabetes brings light to how she eats and the possible pitfalls and unhealthy cooking.

  • Nick (Macheesmo) January 25, 2012  

    Definitely don’t have a problem with her eating, cooking, and writing about whatever she wants.

    It’s the drug company shilling that rubs me as being a very slimy move…

  • Thresher January 25, 2012  

    You can like a celebrity without refusing to call them out for unethical behavior. In this case, I’d defend her food-selling much more actively than her drug-selling.

    Yes, the onus is on the consumer in both cases: pharmaceuticals are just as legitimate on the market as are cookbooks and glossy magazines. But to say that because some act passes a legal litmus test by no means confers sensibility to that act (cf. Mitt Romney’s income).

    Leo Strauss, Walter Lippmann, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman–to name a few–have all rigorously pointed out that editorial bias in any form can be used as a commercial tool to influence who buys what, largely because a commercial enterprise isn’t required to, you know, tell you the truth. This is the problem with casually assuming that the consumer bears one hundred percent of responsibility involved in exchanges that may not be predicated on having all the information needed to make an informed decision.

    Take a browse through medical ethics journals. They’re littered with criticism of celebrity endorsement of drugs, going back decades. The FDA has tried time and time again to restrict the ease of bypassing the medical establishment (that prescribes these drugs) to market directly to consumers who have essentially zero background in making pharmacological assessments. In almost all cases, the criticisms center around one thing: the downlplaying of adverse effects by featuring healthy-looking people who we recognize. In the late ’90s, Cal Ripkin took some serious shit for advertising a medication for a condition he didn’t even have. That event sparked a furious fire among physicians who’ve been calling on FDA ever since to crack down on unethical pharmaceutcial advertising in the same way that they cracked down on unethical tobacco advertising (remember Joe Camel?).

    So, sure, Deen’s been scapegoated–for years–over her cooking style on health grounds. She stopped being a scapegoat the moment she signed a huge contract to be a happy face shilling drugs she knows shit about. Open season.

  • BS January 25, 2012  

    WOW – Paulagate has made it to Page Six-level gossip items: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/deen_rep_out_of_the_kitchen_iNDvkrg7yWBUgTUqRbyZhM

  • Josh January 27, 2012  

    You know what? If people talk crap about Paula Deen in the media, you don’t have to listen to it and then write about it. Why is this even an issue? You’re doing the same thing they are by even bringing it up.

    Just go fry some macaroni and cheese and shove your grill in it. That’s what I’m going to do tonight.

  • erica January 27, 2012  

    all i care about is her mixing bowls suck and i want my money back. as if.

  • Deebee January 27, 2012  

    I doubt if anyone bases their weekly menu items exclusively from anyone’s website. But if you are looking for a super recipe for a delicious pound cake for your sweetheart’s birthday, I bet you might choose one of Paula Deen’s. Once that yummy cake is consumed, the recipe might be saved and made again six months later, but not twice weekly. Leave the woman alone. She makes good tasting stuff, and you would be an idiot if you didn’t use some sense of your own when making and consuming anyone’s “naughty” recipes daikly. It is like Thanksgiving….enjoy it and be done with it for a while.

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