Research Leading to Healthier Potato Chips to Air on PBS TV

UC Riverside’s John Trumble is a member of the research team studying zebra chip disease; he is featured in the last third of the documentary “Heat and Harvest”

Photo shows several chips with zebra chip disease.

Photo shows several chips with zebra chip disease. Photo credit: Trumble Lab, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — It’s easy to finish half a bag of chips, or more, while being spread out on a couch, watching TV, the remote near and handy. So robotic can such chip consumption be that it’s easy, too, not to glance at the chip parade traveling resolutely from bag to mouth.

But glance we must, for had it not been for the work of a research team, those healthy potato chips for most of us today would be out of reach and pricey, crunched into a crisp footnote in potato history.

John Trumble, a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, is a member of this research team that rescued the potato chip industry from major losses. He discusses the threat and impact of zebra chip disease on potatoes, spread by a new pathogen, in a documentary film by KQED titled “Heat and Harvest” that airs on PBS TV, starting today (Sept. 27) at 9:30 p.m. on PBS OC.

The show will repeat on PBS OC on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 30, at 11:00 p.m.  It will air on KLCS on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 9:30 p.m.   KVCR will air the documentary on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m.

The documentary is made up of three stories, which take viewers from the cherry fields outside Stockton, to the almond orchards near Modesto, and all the way south to the potato fields of the Cuyama Valley, southwest of Bakersfield.

Trumble is featured in the third story, which starts 18 minutes into the film.  It looks at how climate change is making agricultural pests more abundant in the state’s fields.

The full half hour film:

The film is a co-production of KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).  CIR produced the first two stories. KQED produced the third.

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