Upfront Home
In This Issue
News and Trends
 • 
 • 
Features
Times Past
The Ethicist
Debate
Teen Voices
Upfront Topics
Contact
Magazine Info
News and Trends
December 1 & 15, 2008


Beyond French Fries
Greener Clubbing
Chocolate Power
On Newstands Not Near You
'Defector Girl Boxer': Why She's a Champ
Songs of Love, Longing . . . and Sanitation

Beyond French Fries
When the U.N. proclaimed 2008 as the Year of the Potato, few paid much attention. But scientists are starting to think that potatoes—a good cheap source of protein and nutrients—could play a much larger role in helping to feed growing populations in developing nations. Grains like wheat and rice have long been staples in most of the world and play a major role in food aid. But since they can't be grown in many places, they often have to be shipped long distances. Potatoes, on the other hand, can be grown in many regions, and with less energy and water. Plus, they're not generally used for biofuels like ethanol, a new use for food crops that has driven up grain prices. A decade ago, most potatoes were grown and eaten in the developed world. Today, China and India, neither big potato eaters in the past, rank first and third in global potato production.

Back to Top


Greener Clubbing If the crowd at Club Watt in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, finds the atmosphere somehow electric, it's understandable: Their jumps and gyrations on the dance floor are being transformed into electricity that powers the light show in and around the floor. It's one of a handful of energy-generating floors in the world, most still experimental. Watt, which is part consciousness-raising and part green-energy experiment, describes itself as "the first sustainable dance club." With its human engineering, the club partly powers itself: The better the music, the more people dance, and the more electricity comes out of the floor. The club is largely the creation of the Sustainable Dance Club, a company formed last year by a group of Dutch ecological inventors, engineers, and investors. Greener clubbing alone obviously will not solve the problem of rising greenhouse-gas emissions, which scientists say are responsible for global warming. With their woofers and strobes, nightclubs are electricity guzzlers—unlikely ever to be carbon neutral even if scientists could harness the energy of a mosh pit. Club Watt, which holds about 1,400 people, is the clubbing equivalent of driving a hybrid: The owners hope the dance floor will ultimately produce 10 percent of the club's electricity.

Back to Top


Chocolate Power
Some of the world's most unusual chocolate entrepreneurs live on an island in the Napo River in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest. For the Quichua (KEE-choo-ah) people, cacao has always been a treat—the pulp is a tart candy and the beans make great hot chocolate. The beans were also a commodity—sold for about 20 cents a pound and shipped worldwide to be turned into mass-produced chocolate. But the Quichua grew tired of making a meager living from so highly valued a product. With the help of volunteers from the U.S., they began creating their own chocolate. Now, their Kallari bars (above) are being sold throughout the U.S., selling for as much as $5.99 apiece at Whole Foods.

Back to Top


On Newstands Not Near You
Hairstyles to crave, hints on how to get over heartbreak, and this month's must-have lip gloss: India's soaring economy has generated an explosion of Western magazines targeted to its growing middle class. Titles like People, Vogue India, and OK! all pitch a familiar mix of gossip, relationship advice, and expensive goods. Most are written, photographed, edited, and designed almost completely in India. The magazines are in English, but their content is distinctly Indian. For example, People offers readers the latest gossip from Bollywood—India's movie industry. And in Good Housekeeping a column called "Ask Mrs. Singh" gives advice on keeping one's home fresh and clean during the heavy rains of India's summer monsoon season.

Back to Top


'Defector Girl Boxer': Why She's a Champ
Boxing's popularity had faded in soccer-crazed South Korea—until 17-year-old Choi Hyun-mi came along. Choi's family fled North Korea in 2004, and four years later, she is the World Boxing Association's Women's Featherweight Champion. Her promoters play up her story, billing her as the "Defector Girl Boxer." When Choi began her boxing career in North Korea, she trained daily under portraits of the country's Communist dictator, Kim Jong Il. Government officials had spotted her potential when she was 13. Now 5 feet 7 inches tall, Choi was almost a head taller than her peers in North Korea, where many children are malnourished. Choi's father was a successful businessman for a state-owned company, and the family lived a life of relative comfort. But in 2004, he decided that they should flee North Korea's repression and poverty. It was in many ways a sacrifice: The family has struggled in South Korea and is living on government assistance. Choi hopes to supplement their income with her fighting fees. "My parents gave up everything in North Korea to give their children a better life," she says. "Boxing is a way to prove that my parents made the right decision."

Back to Top


Songs of Love, Longing . . . and Sanitation
Feliciano Dos Santos is one of southern Africa's leading musicians. He sings beautifully about the usual things—love, longing, and sorrow. But in Mozambique's remote villages, where poor sanitation practices spread disease, Dos Santos is known for his catchy lyrics about going to the bathroom and washing your hands when you are done. Dos Santos has a personal grudge against things unsanitary: As a child, he contracted polio, which is spread through contaminated food and water. The disease left his right leg four inches shorter than the left. Dos Santos and his band Massukos have toured Europe and played before crowds of thousands But the singer spends most of his time running Estamos, a charity in his native Niassa—among the poorest of Mozambique's 11 provinces. The organization's main goals are providing clean water and safe sanitation for villages where untreated waste from open latrines often contaminates ground water. "You can sing forever about washing hands," says Dos Santos, "but you still need to provide the clean water."

Back to Top