by Ana Mari Cox for The New York Times   Read story here

alton.brownTen or so years ago, you said that food in this country was like what sex was in the ’70s: our last decadent act. Are we out of the ’70s yet?   I think we’ve moved into the ’80s. The decadence is being replaced by a potentially appropriate austerity. The orgy of the unfamiliar and new has given way to something more focused and thoughtful.

We’re practicing safe foodYes. We have seen what happens when we just go crazy with three different kinds of saffron.

In the past you’ve talked about being an observant Christian, but late last year, you said that you were leaving the Southern Baptist Convention and searching for a new belief system. Does your spirituality inform your love of food? There is more to the act of sharing food with one another than simply saying ‘‘Here is some food.’’ I do believe that there is a spiritual act in breaking bread and sitting down and being thankful. The pornification of food takes away the importance of sharing it with one another and instead focuses only on the food.

Do you think your employer, the Food Network, might bear some responsibil­ity for that?  I think all food media certainly bears responsibility, which is not the same as saying we are at fault. When you take a subject that becomes a massively popular phenomenon, like food, it’s mirroring other things in society as much as it’s driving things in society.

You were on ‘‘Food Network Star’’ for three seasons. What do you think is the difference between wanting to be a chef and wanting to be a Food Network star?As mutually exclusive terms?  They seem pretty different to me. It’s funny. On ‘‘Food Network Star,’’ I got so tired of hearing people tell me that the reason they should have their own show is that they love food so much. Well, so freaking what? I love food. We all love food. If we don’t, we die. Even supermodels in New York secretly love food. That doesn’t make you special. And people who want to be stars often make the mistake of thinking that it does, and that if they can just show you how much they love it, they will somehow become compelling. This is not the case.

Seems as if what they actually love is convincing you that they love food. At best, love is the gasoline. It’s not the car.

You gave a speech in Washington a few years ago, and it was reported that you said that if you’re dumb enough to eat fast food three times a day, you should just die and get out of the way of the rest of us. Well, I don’t remember saying that! I do, however, believe that if you’re going to eat fast food three times a day and then complain about it, there is a problem there. But the price gap between junk food and real food only seems to be widening, so I wouldn’t say that anymore. We have designed our system to force people into nutritional slavery.

You’re a big believer in self-reliance and responsibility. Do you see cooking as a form of self-reliance? I am, and it is. I get that there are people who can only afford to fill their stomachs with bad, cheap food. But I do think that most of us need to actually take responsibility for what we’re putting in our mouths. Obesity is not a disease. Can it be caused by diseases in certain rare cases? Yes, but the second that our society starts thinking that shoveling Big Macs into our face is a disease then we’re done, we’re done as a culture.

You also fly your own plane, and I read that you carry a gun. Is that true? It depends on where I am. But yeah. I have guns. I have an office in a questionable part of town, and I’m often working there rather late at night. I have been accosted before, so I may or may not be armed at certain times.

Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, recently made a video in which he cooked bacon on the barrel of a gun. Would you recommend such a technique?There are so many other cheaper, easier ways to cook bacon.

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