We Are All Paula Deen
The outrage was palpable. Paula Deen—the TV chef who has long promoted the worst of American gluttony with butter, meat, and junk—had been hiding from her fans the fact that she had developed type 2 diabetes. The press jumped on Ms. Deen for promoting foods that she knew could cause obesity and diabetes. Even worse, she has inked a deal with Novo Nordisk to hawk diabetes medications.
Yes, her culinary advice is terrible. Ms. Deen topped PCRM’s Worst Cookbooks of the Decade list two years ago. And last year, Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible, featuring chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, took its place on PCRM’s Five Worst Cookbooks of 2011 report.
But pointing a finger at Ms. Deen alone is not fair. Pick up your television remote control and click just about any station. Half of the commercials are pushing meat, cheese, and other junk foods. And the other half of the commercials aim to sell you pharmaceuticals to treat the high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and sexual dysfunction that are the predictable results of a meat-heavy diet.
And it’s not just the media. Our government actively subsidizes meat and dairy products and is comfortably in bed with pharmaceutical manufacturers, defeating any effort to limit the sale of antibiotics to livestock farms, among many other favors to the drug industry.
In other words, by pushing meat and cheese on the one hand and selling medicines that treat health problems on the other hand, Ms. Deen simply personifies a universal problem. Right now, two-thirds of Americans are overweight. More than 25 million have diabetes, and nearly 80 million have prediabetes.
Ms. Deen is a mirror. And what she shows us is that it’s time to throw out the butter and cream gravy. And we need to go further, transferring animal products, greasy foods, and sugary junk from the refrigerator to the garbage can. In so doing, the need for pharmaceutical solutions will plummet, and the next generation will have a shot at a healthy future.