In case you haven’t heard, Paula Deen, Food Network star and Southern cook, has now confirmed reports that she was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes nearly three years ago. I have to admit that I know very little about Paula Deen apart from the fact that she has been criticized for promoting the type of high-fat and high-sugar diet that leads to weight gain and other ‘western diseases’ and that she chose to keep her diagnosis a secret for years. What I do know is that during her appearance on the Today Show yesterday, she announced her spokesman-ship deal with Victoza, a pharmaceutical company and dodged discussion about diet. Here’s the footage:
Her announcement happened to correspond with Michael Pollan’s talk last night at the Baltimore Speaker Series in which he addressed Paula Deen’s decision to partner with the Victoza. He pointed out the larger “fork in the road” this exemplifies. We could go one direction towards a nation of acceptance and complacency regarding the epidemic of diet-related health problems (Deen’s direction), or another – more active and change-effecting direction – towards reformation of the food system, our understanding of it, roles within, and conscious involvement in its evolution towards something healthier.
Can you imagine the positive impact Paula Deen could have on the American diet if she were to re-frame this? As disappointed as I am, I’m not going to give up hope. Turn it around, Paula. Sacrifice a little pride for the greater good of your fans and followers.