I was walking through the living room yesterday and caught a segment on Access Hollywood featuring Rocco DiSpirito, a name which is probably well known among foodies. For those who don’t know him, DiSpirito is a chef of some fame from NYC. It’s struck me before that although he’s had a fair amount of culinary success and numerous best selling cook books, what DiSpirito really seems to crave, or at least it appears that way to me, is a ranking among the best known celebrity chefs…people like Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray perhaps. Evidently, Rocco DiSpirito, who made a name for himself in Italian cuisine, has taken a page from Jamie Oliver’s book and is now on the healthy food path. In addition to his new book, The Pound a Day Diet, DiSpirito is a regular contributor on the reality TV show Extreme Weight Loss. I’m not even going to touch the practical problems with gimicky diet books and unscripted (
obviously scripted) “reality” TV….just Google the book or the TV show, and you’ll get an eyeful of caveats about these issues.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of people, including me, could certainly make healthier food choices, and in theory, I’m not opposed to assistance from the culinary world in that vein. What bugs me is the preachy tone that is so often employed. In this case, I couldn’t get past one insanely stupid remark that DiSpirito makes in the Access Hollywood segment:
Starting at 2:06 the demonstration turns to a healthy alternative to the usual Memorial Day Weekend fare…a healthy burger. This burger features 96% lean grass fed (most likely organic) ground beef. OK fine, most experts agree that grass fed beef is healthier than the corn fed alternative, but when the host questions the cost DiSpirito deflects saying, “how expensive is heart disease or diabetes.” Oh, touché Rocco…you’re right of course – the long term costs of chronic, diet impacted illness can become astronomical, but could you possibly be more hyperbolic?! I did a quick search and it seems that 96% lean grass fed beef runs upwards of $9-10 per pound. $9-10 per pound for ground beef?
At a time when almost 50 million people in the US live at or below the poverty level, I find this kind of insensitivity to economic reality ridiculous. Millions of people don’t have the luxury of thinking about the long term effects of their diet when they are struggling to put something, anything at all on their tables. So Mr. DiSpirito, how about instead of moralizing how you are going to “bust the myth that eating healthy costs too much” you present people with healthy alternatives using ingredients that they don’t need to locate an organic butcher and empty out their wallets to prepare. Barring that, re-title your book…I don’t know, maybe something like,
The Pound A Day Diet
Lose up to five pounds in five days…unless you’re poor, then you’re screwed