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Gwyneth Paltrow: I’d Take Crack Over Cheese From a Can

Jul 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM Chime in now

Gwyneth Paltrow thinks Cheez Whiz is like smoking crack

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By CATHERINE CONNORS

This is the kind of thing that, if you read it when you’re drinking coffee, causes you to spit that coffee right out of your mouth: quoth Gwyneth Paltrow, “I would sooner smoke crack than eat cheese out of a can.”

Ah, Gwyneth. How very, very far apart we are on so many things, but this, perhaps, most of all.
 
I don’t, for the record, eat cheese out of a can. I’m pretty sure, however, that I’ve eaten cheese out of a jar. I’ve certainly eaten whipped cream out of a can, and on at least one occasion, directly out of a can. It was pretty good. Given my druthers, I’d rather have fresh whipped cream, just as I’d rather have local cheddar than I would CheezWhiz, and just as I’d rather have local grain-fed steak than I would a McDonald’s hamburger. But in a pinch, the lesser food-stuffs will do. They’ll certainly do better than crack, but maybe that’s just me.
 
Gwyneth was, I’m sure, resorting to hyperbole when she said that she’d rather do crack than eat processed cheese, but the whole point was to express her antipathy to processed foodstuffs. Which is fine, but I think that there’s a point at which anti-CheezWhiz, anti-Mcdonalds, anti-Twinkies discourse gets a little absurd and maybe even a little insulting, and that point lays somewhere well behind the line that Ms. Paltrow crossed in comparing processed cheese to crack. In the first place, nobody really believes that cheese-in-a-can and the like are good food. Tasty, maybe, and fun, but not good. And in the second place: crack? Really?
 
I’m making fun of this because it’s stupid, yes, but also because I think that it’s pernicious. It’s one thing to promote healthy eating and to foster a social discourse around food that promotes good food as good and fun and in all measures better than not-good food. It’s quite another to imply that processed foods are on a par withbelow the par ofdeadly street drugs, and, by extension, that anyone who eats such foodsor, say, allows their children to eat such foodsis on or below a par with a drug-addict or dealer.

For one thing, it makes light of the very real and very serious issue of drug addiction and substance misuse. For another, it shames people who are guilty of nothing more than liking the convenience of whipped cream in a can, or who don’t mind letting their kids have a little CheezWhiz on toast now and then. Or, to take it further, and identify this as the class issue that it is: It shames people who don’t breathe the rarified air of Gwyneth Paltrow and who do not have access to a regular local supply of artisanal cheeses and the like, and/or who do not move in circles wherein the evil of CheezWhiz is established and understood.
 
Because while I do not for a minute doubt that Gwyneth really is nutritionally offended by the idea of canned cheese, I think that her publicly-stated disgust for the stuff has more to do with cultural disdain than it does with any concern for public health. I cannot imagine, for example, her saying that she’d sooner shoot heroin than eat the crème brulee at Balthazar, or that she’d rather take bong hits than sample the ----. Sugary, fattening, unhealthysure, she probably wants to avoid these things, but I doubt that she’d publicly compare them to crack. Cheese in a can, however, is a different story. They don’t serve cheese in a can in finer dining establishments. You probably can't even buy cheese in a can in Gwyneth’s hood.
 
And that’s the point: These things are bad because they’re not just unhealthy, they’re low-class unhealthy. Cheese in a can is something that poor people, fat people, eat. That such people give their children. It’s the kind of thing that can’t pass muster as a treat because, ew, who would consider that a treat? The poors, that’s who. People who don’t know better, poor things.
 
As I said, I’m not partial to cheese in a can. But I’ve occasionally spread CheezWhiz on celery or toast for my kids, who love the novelty of it, just as I’ve been known to get them a Happy Meal at McDonalds (along with a Filet O’ Fish for myself, mmm) and to buy buttered popcorn at the movies and cotton candy at the fair and to roast hot dogs over fires and to mix up the occasional batch of Kool-Aid on a hot summer day. In small doses, I think, that’s stuff’s fine. More than fine, even; it’s fun. It’s the stuff of which memories are made.

It’s not the food that’s the problem, it’s the attitude. If you believe that canned cheese and Happy Meals are a regular part of a balanced diet, then you probably need a little coaching on what ‘balanced diet’ means. You’re still not a crack dealer, you’re just lacking information.
 
As, perhaps, Gwyneth Paltrow is. Gwynnie, honey, if you believe that crack is better for you than CheezWhiz, then you’ve been reading the wrong food guides. Or been smoking something. Either/or.

What do you think? Do you still secretly love Gwyneth? Should we judge her on this? Chime in below!

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