Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perceived pusher vs. Personal Responsibility

So I'm sure you've all probably heard by now the big Paula Deen "scandal."  If you haven't it's basically that she was diagnosed with diabetes 3 years ago and is allegedly only revealing it now when her partnership with a diabetes drug is going public.  I saw a headline that said "Paula Deen hid diabetes, pushed high fat food."  This is where I had to chime in.

I will say that yes it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that she is partnering with a diabetes company instead of say partnering with her son on his new show that "makes over" her high fat recipes.  (Though my feeling is that was very carefully planned to air about the same time that her diabetes news was released and viewers could see that her recipes could be made over.  Well, some of them can.  I don't call going from Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding to a Fresh Fruit Bread Pudding a makeover, I call it a heavily adapted recipe that tastes nothing like the original but I digress.)  That's neither here nor there at this point and I need to say up front I'm not some Paula fan.  I think she's fine but I don't watch her show and frankly her down home ya'lls can end up grating if heard for an extended period of time but I feel the need to address that headline..."Paula Deen hid diabetes, pushed high fat."

1)  "Paula Deen hid diabetes"  Since when is a celebrities health our business?  I could understand if she was cooking healthy recipes on camera but in real life eating like crap 80% of the time that people could call her a hypocrite but she has never apologized for the kind of high fat food she prepares.  Even then, it's really none of our business.  I don't need to know if a chef has high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol issues, etc.  It doesn't effect their ability to do their job or whether or not I'm going to make it.  Don't they deserve some amount of privacy?  I don't buy the whole "they signed up for it when they became a celebrity" crap because I'm sure on their contracts they didn't say "must disclose every aspect of your life including health issues to the public."  Now would it be nice if Paula developed a show that focused on eating healthier?  Sure.  But that's not what she grew up on, it's not her passion and God forbid we should force people to live a passionless life where their jobs are concerned.  Think about what you wanted to be when you were little or what you went to school for and how many people are actually in the field they dreamed of?  If you are, congrats... unfortunately many aren't.  I don't begrudge her living out her dream just because others don't approve of or eat the foods she prepares.

2)  "Pushes High Fat Food."  Did she go to the grocery, buy the butter, show up on your doorstep, help you prepare the recipe and shove it down your throat?  No.  Some may call her a "pusher" but there are plenty of other so-called "pushers" in disguise.  I looked up super skinny Giada DeLaurentis on Food Network's site and clicked her first popular recipe.  Guess what it called for?  9 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of olive oil, whole milk, heavy whipping cream and parmesan cheese.  I decided to calculate the nutritional info for the Chicken Tetrazzini which is 6-8 servings.  I went with 6 servings because let's face it, we're more likely to go for the bigger serving if we're eyeballing it.  The nutritional info was 940 cals, 48g of fat, 29g sat fat, 220mg cholesterol, 1679mg of sodium, 62g of carbs and 59g of protein.  This recipe was the most popular as voted  by users on the Food Network site meaning they CHOSE to look at and possibly prepare the recipe.  Then I went over to Paula's page and her most popular recipe as chosen by the people was Chicken and Rice Casserole where the servings are 6-8 for that recipe as well so I calculated 6 servings just like Giada's.  The nutritional info for that was 557 cals, 38g of fat, 10g sat fat, 101mg of cholesterol, 923mg of sodium, 18g of carbs and 34g of protein.  Paula's recipe, while not low fat, is clearly the healthier of the two as chosen by the people yet I don't hear people calling Giada a "pusher."  Is it because she's skinny?  I mean that's the only glaring difference between the two chefs is age and weight.  So what, the older, heavier chef is a high fat pusher while the skinny, younger chef isn't??

In the end, we ALL have the choice whether or not to put the food we see on TV on our table.  Whether it's Paula, Giada or grabbing a Big Mac on the way home because you saw or heard a commercial that enticed you, in the end the responsibility of what you eat or prepare is yours.

This is my own personal opinion on the subject.
I welcome others to share their own opinions in the comments section.

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  1. I totally agree with you. I actually look on Paula's website a lot for recipes. If I think something is just way too fattening, I will modify the recipe. She hasn't enticed me to go to her website or anything. I actually live in the city where she is from. I am a southern girl, and many of her recipes do appeal to me. Intelligence lets one know that those recipes are not healthy to eat all day everyday.

    I think it was some type of strategy as well, but I also believe that it wasn't really our business whether or not she has health issues. That's just really personal in my opinion. I actually looked at Paula Deen the other morning, and she really didn't appear that big. Her face was the biggest thing on her. She was wearing a big shirt, but it had quite a bit of room in it.

    In the end, it's all about personal choices. Instead of taking responsibility for self, a lot of people would prefer to place the blame on someone else. "OMG, Paula Deen tried to make me get diabetes by cooking all of her recipes!!!" Ridiculous.

  2. It isn't anyones business what's going on with a celebrity personally. What they choose to put out there is all we should be privy to. As for her diabetes, it's her choice to eat those foods, she's not making you deep fry a stick butter, cover it in mayonnaise and eat it. It's been shown that her son can make the recipes healthier, there's no reason why someone else can't do it too. I agree, this is her passion, these are her southern roots, and the meals she grew up with, no need to change a ting. I wonder if she'll do a little less taste tasting though.

  3. Good for you! I am with you... she is not forcing anyone to eat her food and she herself has said many times, feel free to substitute ingredients. If a recipe cannot be modified to fit my lifestyle, I choose not to prepare it.

  4. Thank you!!! Exactly my thoughts. I am Paula's age and grew up in the South also. I watch her show from time to time, but it doesn't mean I have to cook everything she cooks, just the way she does it. We get to choose what we cook, how we cook and whether or not we do it on a regular basis. People need to learn that they are totally responsible for the choices they make and quit blaming everyone else for it. Thanks for the post.

  5. The comparision you made between the two chef's most popular recipes is so interesting. To me it is proof that people judge others based on their size. Now if Giada comes down with diabetes in a few years, we'll see what is said.

  6. It all comes down to this crazy world we live in...anything bad has GOT to be someone else's fault, and worth big bucks. But don't you dare take away my rights to do whatever the heck I want to, responsible or not. What, I have 19 kids and can't feed them? Somebody needs to pay! Thanks to the media, now anyone who ever made a poor choice and suffered a consequence is looking for the deepest pockets around to sue for justice. It's disgusting.

  7. Immediate thoughts:
    1) I agree completely about the overdose of syrupy accent. I'm from the south and have an accent of my own, but I pray it doesn't drip like Paula's.
    2) I get a little weary of people insisting other people are pushing food on them, whether it's a celebrity chef or a fast food restaurant. WE are responsible for our actions. It may be uncomfortable to tell mother-in-law that we would not like another slice of her lemon pie, but it's our choice to do so. Or not. :)
    3) Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing the work on the Paula/Giada comparison.
    4) As I said in #1, Paula gets on my nerves (I've never made it through an entire episode of her show), but I admire the hell out of her for her ambition and her success in creating a rewarding career for herself and her family.

  8. Thank you for the Giada/Paula recipe comparison. Not only does it show society's fat bias it also points to GIADA'S hypocrisy.

    Giada makes "unhealthy" food which (given her appearance) she clearly doesn't eat (or eats very little of). At least with Paula, it's clear (again, by appearance only) that she most likely eats the things she makes.

    It also makes me wonder about each chef's personal life to the extent of eating/exercise. Clearly (again, by appearance only) Paula over indulges in "unhealthy" foods and/or exercises very little. But what does Giada do to maintain her appearance (besides not eat her own recipes)? Does she starve herself? Over-exercise? Abuse drugs? Who knows. And bottom line, it's really no one's business. Both are ENTERTAINERS. As long as they aren't breaking the law (on their own time) WHO CARES?!

    (and Anthony Bourdain--who has a hard on against Dean--is the biggest hypocrite of them all!)

  9. So glad to read people's thoughts on the subject and that I have readers who don't just jump on the media bandwagon. You guys rock!

  10. I couldn't agree with you more!! You stated your argument perfectly and I'm sold on it 100%! :-)

  11. Wow, that's crazy about Giada vs. Paula! Love your logic and totally agree!

  12. OMGosh....I LOVE this blog. Especially the part when you compared Giada's recipe vs. Paula's. Great stuff!!!

    Here are my thoughts regarding this situation. Nothing personally directed to anyone...just the powers that be who write all these stupid articles about her "pushing" fatty food and blah blah blah.....

    I love Paula's personality. I think it's genuine, but at the same time you have to remember that she is a TV personality. Having read Paula's personal memoir several years ago I know she had previously suffered from a disease called agoraphobia (a fear of leaving her house). However, her love of these types of Southern foods....let's say "saved" her from that terrible disease. Lucky for snowballed into a great gig and she set out to MAKE MONEY!!! Do you blame her? I don't. Do you really think she eats 24/7 those types of food she makes on TV? Obivously neither does Giada otherwise her teeth or boobs wouldn't look NEAR as big!!! LOL

    Don't get me wrong, Paula is overweight....but if she really ate like that all the time she would be a lot heavier, don't you think? I personally like the way she is handling this situation, NO!!!! I would rather see her do something to manage her type 2 diabetes...lose some weight, stop smoking to start with...rather than just SETTLE for taking drugs to manage it....and getting PAID makes it even worse for me. Type 2 Diabetes is COMPLETELY reversible in some cases and I think she has a responsiblity to her fans to make that known. She doesn't seem to care about curing herself though, she basically just set herself up for a fatter paycheck. Annoying!!!

  13. Here I am... late to the party as usual.

    I agree with you (and other commentors) on all points, and found that comparison really interesting.

    I'm not a Paula Deen fan (I'm not a fan of anyone to the extent that I feel theyow me anything... especially details of their personal life)... the chefs I appreciate cook in a manner that suites my own sensibilities and nutritional priorities... Nigella Lawson, Michel Nischan, Jaime Oliver, Emeril, Kat Cora (I get A LOT of my ideas from iron Chef)... truth is, I don't follow recipes all that well, and I use other people's cooking as a leaping off point for my own style. I appreciate a chef who teaches me about food, and challenges me to think about it in new ways. Paula Deen doesn't do that for me... though I really wish I could get her son's show here... and I SO agree that it would be so much more impressive had she partnered with him on his show in light of her own diagnisis.

    Great blog!

  14. I agree. A 1000% percent (which is a lot!)

  15. I really appreciated your comparison. I've watched both shows (rarely) and kind of had the feeling that in those few episodes I watched Giada's recipes would have actually been worse health/fat wise. It's nice to have my gut feeling confirmed.

    Frankly Giada annoys me far more than Paula and her dripping accent any day. Just sayin'.

    I'm sure she chose the timing of sharing her diagnosis with the public to be advantageous, but I'm just as sure that she never OWED it to the public to share at all.

    And pushing? Seriously? Like you said, she's not forcing me to cook and eat her recipes.

  16. Ooo you are so RIGHT! Seems like the masses are just trying to blame her! I happen to not like Paula Deen too, but it's because my husband has a crush on her. The hussy! I guess we can like Robin Williams if he likes Paula without issue! I'll shove that butter where the sun don't shine!!! :):):)

  17. I'm so anti-media that I disagree with just about everything that comes out of their personal-agenda mouths. I've never understood people who feel that public people need to conform to the ideals/wishes of their fans. Very odd to me. It's my CHOICE to watch who I watch, whether it's an athlete or a tv personality. I don't give a rip about their salaries, their waistlines, or who they're sleeping with. I watch these things to be entertained, not to learn a life lesson. I'm not a fan of stiletto shoes, but I don't take offense to women who wear them and think, "how dare she! She's sending a wrong message and offending all of us with fallen arches!" Really? Good grief! The media tries to make heros out of public figures, which is scary because sooooo many people will go with the pack mentality..."hey, what does Oprah think about this? Well, if SHE likes it, then I do too." Um... DER!!!

  18. I'm late to the party, too, but I totally loved your comparison of the two. The 'perception' is that Paula is the butter queen and Giada is the fresh Italian chef and obviously neither of those are correct. And it probably is more about age and size, at least so far as the 'media' is concerned.Great blog!

  19. AMEN!! I had the same exact thoughts when I read that headline. Hello! When are people going to start taking responsibility for their own actions and not blaming someone else?

  20. I love Paula, for the inspirational story of her success. It's really quite something to hear about how she completely turned her circumstances around to become a successful business woman. Unfortunately, there are not enough successful women in business, or at least ones that we hear their's the same reason why I will always love Oprah...

    I think everything Paula does now is centered around marketing herself and making a profit on information, including her personal health that she's chosen to make public. But again, it all goes down to personal choice, just as you've said. We can only allow ourselves to be pushed.

  21. This was a very well written post, particularly because you did a practical comparison between two cooks.

    Also, I only read your blog periodically, but I noticed that you said you feel like a failure for being up to 200 again (or something along those lines). Please cheer up. I can only imagine how hard this is. . . BUT I know how impressed I am with your regular blogging and your progress thus far. Keep up the good work.

  22. I totally agree!!! I love everything you said! Plus, I can't stand Giada. I doubt she cares about my opinion of her though since she is her own biggest fan.


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