Food Network pusher Paula Deen got her due this week as she finally publicly confessed — after hiding the fact for three years — that she has become a Type II Diabetic. The convenient news of her illness comes as no surprise to anyone who is remotely aware of her lust for cooking with tubs of butter and her fantastical — if completely irresponsible — pushing of a Krispy Kreme bacon burger into the mindless memeing of an ever-fatting middling mainstream American public.
I call Paula Deen a pusher — just like Atkins before her — because she is just as bad for a body as a snort of cocaine or a toke on a bubbling bong. Her intention is to shill her wares and she teases the inchoate channel-surfing mind with little tastes of even better things to come if they just fall into her butter patch and swim around in her vats of saturated pork fat on the way to buying into her brand.
Deen defended her fattening cooking style — and her decision to keep her diabetes diagnosis a secret for three years — to TODAY’s Al Roker. “I have always encouraged moderation,” she said. “I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people, in moderation… it’s entertainment. People have to be responsible.”
Deen continued, “Like I told Oprah, ‘Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.’ You have to be responsible for yourself.”
Why cook something that should never be eaten? There isn’t a body alive that won’t revolt against her Krispy Kreme concoction. Why not sell motor oil throat lozenges and ether-infused Jello-Shots? They might not kill you straight away, but the ridiculousness of the danger is still palpable.
Last summer, the chef Anthony Bourdain, a fellow food-TV celebrity, said in a TV Guide interview that Ms. Deen’s fatty food made her “the worst, most dangerous person” on the Food Network.
Ms. Deen defended herself in an interview with The New York Post by accusing Mr. Bourdain of elitism: “You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”
Mother Jones puts the screws to Ms. Deen’s disingenuous stardom and her creepy, secretive, and well-planned “outing” of her disease for pharmaceutical profit:
What pushed me over the edge was her debut this week as a spokesperson for pharma giant Novo Nordisk’s diabetes treatment Victoza. As Anthony Bourdain tweeted in response to the announcement, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Here, Deen isn’t making a private decision on how to treat an ailment; she’s turning her ailment into a quite-public revenue stream. And she’s broadcasting a clear message to her legion of fans: Eat all the junkie food you want, and don’t worry, because the pharmaceutical industry will bail you out.
In fact, Deen’s favored Big Pharma diabetes product might be as questionable as the meat she promotes. The FDA approved Victoza in January 2010, but it did so amid strong evidence of a link to thyroid cancer. In April 2009, the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 12-1 that rodent data linking the drug to thyroid cancer could apply to humans. The committee got hung at 6-6 (with one abstention) on whether the cancer risk was ground for FDA rejection. The drug eventually won approval anyway.
And then last June, reported MedPage Today, the FDA “issued a warning about the risks of thyroid cancer and pancreatitis associated with the diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza).” The agency “directed drugmaker Novo Nordisk to send out a ‘Dear healthcare professional’ letter after determining that some primary care providers were not fully aware of the serious risks,” MedPage reports. Because of the cancer concerns, FDA ordered that Novo Nordisk include a so-called “black box” warning (PDF) on the drug’s label. Black boxes are the agency’s strongest warning, used only when grave side effects are at issue. The drug “causes thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures in rodents,” the warning states.
Brace yourself for the re-imagining of Paula Deen as an exercise guru, a reformed foodie, Future Vegan and spokesmodel for a plethora of new pharmaceuticals — and it will all be just as phony, and just as bad for you, as her Krispy Kreme hamburger is with every mouthful and swallow.