Silver and Andersen Labs Featured on PBS Series

September 26, 2014

Food Forward Banner; Professors Whendee Silver and Gary Andersen.

PBS’s new series, “Food Forward,” explores issues surrounding food in the United States. Covering topics such as urban agriculture, sustainable fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science and school lunch reform, the show aims to encourage “a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative” to current food production and consumption. The “SOS: Save or Soil” episode, which examines soil health and soil carbon depletion in connection to climate change, features the labs of ESPM Professors Whendee Silver and Gary Andersen.  Silver, professor of ecosystem ecology, studies the potential for carbon sequestration in the soil of California rangelands. With the Marin Carbon Project, her lab collaborates with ranchers on increasing the soil health of degraded grasslands while also undertaking carbon farming that can help reverse climate change. Together they have found that simple solutions like applying compost to rangeland soil significantly increases plant production, as well as carbon storage. Adjunct professor  of microbiology Gary Andersen is working to increase the safety of that compost, specifically compost made from human waste. With the phylochip, his lab analyzes the microbial processes in compost to ensure pathogen reduction, so that the compost can be safely used in gardens or on grasslands. John Wick, a rancher also featured in the episode, says, “What we have now are some tools in the toolbox that never existed before.” ESPM is proud of our faculty who are building these real-world tools and creating solutions! Tip: Watch to the end of the episode to find out what Professors Silver and Anderson both said when asked what vegetable they’d most like to be! 

Watch the full "Food Forward" series