An English Breakfast at The River Café With Alex Prud’homme

Nonfiction / Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Brooklynite Alex Prud’homme is a man who deals with what one might call “glorious basics of life: water and food”. At a recent breakfast at The River Café, overlooking one of the most famous bodies of water in the world, the New York Harbor, Prud’homme discussed his latest book “France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child”. The book features photographs of Julia Child, taken by her husband Paul Child, as well as personal stories recounted by her favorite nephew Alex Prud’homme.

During the breakfast, Prud’homme noted an anecdote about a meal he shared with his famous great-aunt in France where they spoke about the French obsession with bottled water. This obsession was beginning to spread to the United States.

“The whole phenomenon of bottled water and the way we treat water today was one of the inspirations for my book ‘The Ripple Effect,’” he said.

In his book “The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-first Century”, Alex Pru’dhomme offers a comprehensive assessment of what could become the most pressing issue in the next few decades. While water is a finite resource, human consumption of water is doubling every year. Several highly populated U.S. cities are dangerously close to running out of fresh water. Hazardous substances from industries such as oil, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals pollute fresh water sources, while the EPA is too underfunded and understaffed to effectively monitor drinking water quality. These are only a few of the many reasons experts predict that water will be our greatest challenge in the coming years.

In Brooklyn alone, there are two Superfund sites, or places deemed so contaminated with hazardous substances that they pose a threat to human health. These are the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. Prud’homme dedicates an entire chapter to Newtown Creek, explaining its history as an industrial dumping ground. It was also the site of a benzene spill that had been leaking into the ground for at least a decade before clean up attempts. Add to this the fact that New York City’s combined sewer overflow system leaks raw sewage into our waterways every time it rains. Both have compromised Brooklyn waterways and the health of Brooklynites.

Prud’homme travelled across the United States to investigate the state of freshwater his book. He chronicled threats to water quality, the state of water infrastructure, and how secure our drinking water might be in the face of terrorist attacks or natural disasters. The book seeks to answer two urgent questions: Will there be enough water to satisfy demand? And, inspired by our growing obsession with buying bottled water: Is water a right or a commodity?

Early in 2018 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle will host a book signing at which Prud’homme will field questions about water and his latest book “France is a Feast”.

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