Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brain Food - How to be Smarter

Would you like to know how you can make yourself smarter? It’s really quite simple. There are certain foods that make your brain work better. To improve your memory and brain function, eat more foods high in choline. According to Dr. Arthur Winter, coauthor of Build Your Brain Power, foods high in choline include: soy, fish, beef, dairy, egg yolks, oatmeal, brown rice, liver and wheat germ.

Eating foods high in Vitamin B12, such as red meat, liver, eggs, and dairy, also will improve memory and brain power. Winter recommends taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure you’re getting what your body needs. You can take Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) to reduce stress to your brain tissue.

To improve alertness, memory, and focus make sure you eat three servings of protein (chicken, fish, beef, soy, and dairy) each day. Your brain is regulated by amino acids, and these foods have the necessary amino acids your brain needs. If you are a vegan, make sure to balance your diet with legumes and nuts. Lastly, folic acid, another B vitamin, helps brain function by improving mood and alertness. It’s found in green leafy veggies, broccoli, cereals, meat, and lentils. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dangers of Processed Meat

Hot dogs, sausage, bacon and even luncheon meats may not be so good for your health, according to a researcher at the University of Hawaii. The greatest danger may be to your pancreas. In a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, people who ate processed meats had a 67% higher risk for pancreatic cancer than those who didn’t consume processed meats.

The study analyzed the diets of 190,545 men and women. Other research has found a correlation between pancreatic cancer and other factors such as a family history of pancreatic cancer, smoking, obesity, and diabetes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Want To Find Out Info On Someone...Or Yourself?

Here’s a great website worth keeping in your favorite’s file!
Do you want to find out information about someone you know, or even your neighbor? Go to You’ll be amazed at what you can find out. It’s a search engine that explores public records from any state. Try typing in your own name or address and see what you find out about yourself. It might surprise you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

7 Secrets for Conquering Stress in Your Life...

Are you a harried mom? Overworked dad? Stressed out professional? Stress is considered one of the top three contributors to heart disease and other serious illnesses. Don’t let daily stress get the best of you. Here are seven steps you can take right now to reduce your stress level, and get back to feeling more balanced and energized in your daily life...

1. Master Your Thoughts. Stress and anxiety are actually a choice. You have the power to choose how you feel at any given moment. When you are feeling stressed out, take a moment to pause and close your eyes. Ask yourself, “Is there another choice I can make that will make me feel more at peace with myself or this situation?”

2. Breathe. It sounds so simple, but breathing has a tremendous affect on your mind, body, and your mood. Focus on your breathing when you find yourself feeling stress. If you put your finger on your belly button, you’ll begin to breathe from your belly and relax.

3. Exercise. Regular exercise can release stress and make you feel more in control of your life. Try a 30-minute brisk walk, bike ride, or play a game of tennis or racquetball.

4. Take Up A Hobby. Hobbies give our body and mind a place to relax. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, hobbies can give us that feeling of a vacation without having to go anywhere to get away.

5. Pace Yourself. Many of us have a tendency to over schedule ourselves or our family, and then become stressed when we can’t meet the demands. Prioritize your workload and concentrate on one task at a time.

6. Lighten Up And Take The Long View. If you’re feeling anxious and tense...take a moment and ask yourself, “will this really matter tomorrow, next week, or even five years from now?”

7. Strive For Peace of Mind. You can get more out of your life by actually doing less. Happiness comes not from the number of activities we do, and things we collect, but from the opportunity to enjoy our experiences. Doing less may actually make you’s your choice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What a Pest Inspection Too?

Q. We are taking the first steps in getting our home ready for sale. Our REALTOR® says we need to have a pest inspection. Is this really necessary?

A. Most states (especially in regions prone to termite infestation) will require that the seller or buyer obtain a Wood-Destroying Insect Report. Termites can devastate a dwelling to the point it needs to be demolished. It’s best to get the report from an independent, reputable expert rather than the company that treats homes for termite problems. A termite problem is not always visible and a trained entomologist (insect specialist) may be needed to spot evidence of termite nests and activity.

Hire only experienced, licensed, and insured exterminators. There are freelancers out there who are not properly trained to apply chemicals. (This could easily damage your home and your health!) Avoid any company that offers a contract containing a disclaimer against water damage. This is an “out” if their treatments aren’t effective, because termites need a 98 percent humidity level to thrive and survive. Moisture and termites go hand-in-hand and only a thorough extermination will get them.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau for reputable exterminators. Americans spend $4.5 billion a year on termite extermination and 2 billion to repair termite damage. The right exterminator could save your home and avoid extensive repairs. Here are some tips on hiring exterminators.

1. Ask someone you trust for a reference (your agent is a great place to start!).
2. Find out if the company belongs to a national, state, or local pest control association.
3. Ask the company exactly what the pest is, what treatments are needed, and how long it will take before they go to work.
4. Thoroughly read and understand the company’s guarantee.
5. Expect to pay for a good extermination job. Go by value and not price.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How To Boost Your Brain Power

Have you lost your keys lately? Have you recently put something down, and now you can’t find it? Or, maybe you just want to be more efficient and productive at work. Well now there are some new herbal products available at your local health food store that can increase oxygen and glucose to the brain—triggering more brain power!
1. Bacopa (Bacopa Monnieri) – Rich in antioxidants, this herb has been found to improve memory and information processing.
2. Cordyceps (Cordyceps Sinensis) – Cordyceps has been used to treat exhaustion, weakness, poor sexual appetite, and aging. It has been shown to help the adrenals function better and stimulate the liver to release stored energy in the form of glucose.
3. Periwinkle (Vinca Minor, sold as vinpocetine) – Periwinkle is a European herb that delivers more blood to the brain and acts as a powerful free-radical destroyer. It may prevent senility and dementia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Safe Way To Jump-Start Your Car

Jump-starting a vehicle can be very dangerous to the person doing it and to the vehicle. Read the car owner's manual first before touching a dead battery because some directions are unusual. Improper jump-starting can cause electrical surges through the vehicle's electrical system.

When working with a battery, wear splash-proof goggles. If the battery explodes, eye protection can prevent injuries from flying fragments or chemicals.

Here's how to attach the cables:
1. Connect one positive cable (+ or red) to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
2. Clamp the remaining positive cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
3. Clamp the negative cable ( - or black) to the negative terminal of the good battery.
4. Make the last connection by clamping the black or negative cable on the engine block (not on the negative post of the dead battery) of the stalled vehicle.

Now you are ready. Start the car with the good battery and then the disabled car. When finished, remove cables in reverse order.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The New Miracle Health Food

Ah…Yes, Chocolate—

If you love chocolate, you don’t need to feel guilty anymore! Here’s why. Nutritionists at Penn State University have discovered that chocolate has powerful (and very healthy!) antioxidant properties. Chocolate (especially the very dark chocolates) have been found to have high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols. Long-term studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type-2 diabetes.

Researchers found that Dove Dark Chocolate packed a walloping amount of the heart-healthy flavanols. It reduced bad LDL cholesterol, boosted antioxidant levels in the blood and raised good HDL cholesterol by 4 percent. In the lab, they discovered chocolate reduces blood clotting, and may stabilize arterial plaque, making it less likely to travel and cause stroke and heart attack. “The chocolate flavanol factor” also triggers production of nitric oxide, which maintains flexible arteries and increases blood flow – great for controlling high blood pressure! So the next time you unwrap a savory piece of dark chocolate and offer some to a friend, you can say, “To your health and long life!”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friends—The Key To A Longer Life

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, men who have lots of friends, social contacts, and relatives live longer, more satisfying lives. In a study of 28,000 men in their early 40s to late 70s, researchers found that men who were socially isolated loners were 20 percent more likely to die prematurely. The socially isolated group also was 53 percent more likely to die from heart related diseases and stroke. Unmarried men included in the study had markedly higher death rates than married men with a strong family support system did.

It appears that making friends and nurturing social relationships not only will make you healthier, but it could make you a lot happier too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save BIG On Prescription Drugs

Anyone who buys medications from their local pharmacy can’t help but wonder about the high cost of prescription drugs. By applying a little knowledge and forethought at the doctor’s office—and at the pharmacy counter, you can save BIG money…and get the medications that you need to stay healthy! Here are a few practical strategies to help you SAVE on your health care needs:

1. This one is simple…don’t take medications you don’t really need. If a change in diet, more exercise, and weight loss will get the job done, then by all means try that approach first.
2. Buy in bulk when possible. The larger the quantity, the greater the savings. Ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription if you are on a daily medication.
3. Routinely ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is generic equivalent for a prescribed medication. Generics can be as effective and cost less.
4. If you are starting a new drug, ask your doctor for free samples. Then if you have a bad reaction and can’t continue, you haven’t wasted money on a full bottle of pills or ointment.
5. Ask your doctor for a higher dose, and then cut the pills in half by scoring them with a kitchen knife or pill-splitter. Not all drugs can be split, so consult with your doctor first.
6. Compare prices at your neighborhood drug stores. Many of the “big box” stores feature pharmacies that have lower prices on prescription drugs.
7. Check out mail order drug companies and the blossoming internet outlets. Medications can be 20 percent cheaper and shipped to you.
8. Use discount cards promoted by pharmacies and consumer groups (like AARP). The savings can be up to 40 percent with these special programs.
9. If you can’t afford medication, at least 30 states now have active prescription drug assistance programs for the low-income and elderly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kitchen Wisdom

• When freezing ahead for daily use, package food items in the measured amounts you will need for your daily recipes…less waste!
• If you have a fisherman in the family, or buy a quantity of bulk fish, here’s how to keep it from drying out and losing its flavor in the freezer: Clean and prepare the fish for cooking then layer fish in a loaf pan as tightly as possible. Pour cold water over it; be sure to cover the very top fish. Freeze. When frozen solid, run warm water over the pan to release the block of fish. Bag tightly and store in the freezer.
• A little vinegar kept boiling on the stove while cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli are boiling will prevent odor.
• In preparing greens for salads, never cut them! Tear them into pieces. Cutting bruises greens and makes them limp.
• Grease your spoon or cup when measuring syrup, molasses, or honey and the sticky foods will roll right off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

7 Secrets to Wealth-Building

The tech boom and the stock market “bubble” of the 1990s have come and gone like a bright, shining dream. And visions of “instant millionaires” created by stock options and killer web sites have all but evaporated. So what really defines being “wealthy” in the 21st century and who has it…for real?

Thomas J. Stanley, author of the bestseller “The Millionaire Next Door,” interviewed 1,000 millionaires to find out what traits, attributes, and habits they have in common.

Stanley sorted through the “showboat” wealthy (those living affluent lifestyles but actually burdened with debt) to find the genuine “balance sheet” millionaires—those with solid assets between $2 and $5 million. And what he found is that the basic rules for creating and keeping wealth are still driven by old-fashioned, common sense values. Here are seven key factors that make a “real” millionaire:

1. They started their own business and acquired wealth by finding a profitable niche in the market. They also love what they do for a living, and are motivated by building a business—not by amassing wealth for its own sake.
2. “Real” millionaires live comfortable lifestyles, but they are not extravagant or wasteful. On the average, they live in homes valued at $350,000 and drive mid-priced cars.
3. They stay married to responsible, stable spouses who run tight, efficient households. Their mates clip coupons, buy household items in bulk, and keep track of the household expenses.
4. They spend less than they earn, and follow a savings plan as a life-long habit.
5. TRUE millionaires do not speculate when it comes to investments. Once their businesses have reached maturity, they invest wisely to grow capital. They rarely visit a casino to gamble, and almost never buy lottery tickets.
6. Most of the millionaires were average students who had little encouragement to succeed in life. They developed leadership skills through sports and nurtured determination and a will to succeed—on their own.
7. Two strong characteristics the TRUE millionaires all had in common were an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities. They dared to think differently from the crowd!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 Warning Signs Your 401(K) May Be In Trouble!

The Department of Labor Anti-Fraud Division has put together a list of 10 warning signs that your 401(K) funds could be in jeopardy.
1. Your 401(K) or individual account statement is late or comes irregularly.
2. Your account balance is not accurate.
3. Your employer fails to transmit your contribution to the plan on time.
4. There is a drop in your account balance beyond normal market fluctuations.
5. Your 401(K) or individual account statement does not reflect your contributions.
6. There are investments on your statement that you did not authorize.
7. Former employees are having trouble getting their benefits paid on time or in the correct amounts.
8. You notice unusual transactions, such as a loan to the employer, a corporate officer, or one of the plan trustees.
9. There are frequent and unexplained changes in investment managers or consultants.
10. Your employer has recently experienced severe financial difficulty.
If you have any concerns about your 401(K), contact the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What to Know About Buying a Rental Property

Q. My wife and I are interested in investing in real estate. What should we know before we jump in and put down our money?

A. Investing in real estate can be a very profitable investment, but there are a few things you should know.
• Financing investment properties may have a higher interest rate than in a home where you reside. You also may be required by the lending institution to have a larger down payment.
• The secret to making money is to buy right. Choose a property that will appreciate over time. You want to buy an “average” home in a very strong neighborhood or area – then improve the property. Be particularly careful about the location of the property, and any future changes to the area.
• If you are handy at making repairs, and available to make them, buying a fix-up property can be profitable. Make sure you choose a neighborhood where the houses are well-maintained at a higher value.
• Lastly, you’ll need to become knowledgeable about landlord tenant legal issues whether you lease the property yourself, or enlist a management company to handle your property.
If you have any questions, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making Small Talk - Get ready for Your Holiday Party

Have you ever found yourself at a meeting or social event and been at a loss for words? Making small talk isn’t random. It follows a formula, says Bernardo Carducci, author of The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk. Carducci says you can anticipate where the conversation is going and plan ahead. Here are some tips to follow:

 Look for someone not talking with a group and use a simple opening line, “This appetizer (food) is great!” Or, mention something about the building or room. Then introduce yourself.
 If a conversation stalls, you can restart it with a compliment. “That’s a great suit (tie, jewelry, color of clothing), you’re wearing.”
 If there’s someone you want to talk to (but they’re talking in a group), meander over, introduce yourself to others in the group and soon enough you’ll be able to talk directly with that person.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Searching Family Records is FUN

7 Easy Ways to Discover
Your Family History

Would you like to know more about your ancestry, but don’t know where to start? Now you can learn about your family’s history and discover interesting facts in a matter of minutes – all from the internet. Here are seven easy tips you can follow to help research your ancestry on the web:

1. What Does Your Name Mean? A fun way to begin to search your ancestry is to find out what your surname means. You can go to a number of sites on the web including and

2. Where Do Most People With Your Surname Originate? You can continue your search to find out where most people with your last name came from. You can also learn immigration information, headlines from that period, war records, and the current population distribution.

3. When Did They Arrive At Ellis Island (if you live in the U.S.)? Go to to search passenger arrival records, which are fascinating to view.

4. What Type Of Work Did Your Ancestors Do? You can find the occupations of your ancestors, which can tell you about their socioeconomic class and dominant family trades.

5. Access a Variety of Interesting Family Information and Trivia. You can access obituary data, prison records (for that “black sheep” of the family), bible records transcriptions and more at

6. How to Access Military Records? You can search military records including Civil War records, WWI, draft records, and other records using the above links on the web.

7. Connect And Share With Your Family. You can begin to build your family tree using computer software, or you can create your own family tree using many free resources available on the websites mentioned here.

Searching family records is fun, interesting and rewarding. Hop on the internet today, and discover amazing facts about your family.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Teaching Kids Life Skills

Teaching kids how to approach and solve life’s challenges is one of the biggest jobs parents face. Here are a few tips to help your children (or grandchildren) grow into self-sufficient and responsible adults:

• Teach Kids To Look For Solutions. When kids are faced with a problem, have them identify several options and solutions. Then you can help them choose which solution works best.

• Teach Kids Responsibility: Let kids know they are responsible for their actions. They have to do their homework, but you can offer them two “positive choice” options: Do you want to do it in 15 minutes or 30 minutes? Teach them how to organize, and give them the tools to stay organized (calendar, palm pilot, notebook).

• Teach Kids How To Make Good Choices. Giving kids choices empowers them to make their own decisions. Have them weigh the pros and cons of their choice, and let them make the decisions.

• Teach Kids How To Deal with Failure. Teach your children that failure is not personal, permanent, or pervasive (i.e. losing a soccer game doesn’t mean you’re bad at other things as well). Developing a positive explanatory style early in life will help your children live a happier, healthier and more successful adult life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Healing Magic Of Cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon offers more than just a great scent and taste? It has important health benefits too. A USDA scientist, Dr. Richard Anderson, recently found that cinnamon imitates the effect of insulin in the body. A study of Type-2 diabetics found that people who were given between 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day reduced their blood sugar by up to 29% depending on the amount of cinnamon they were given.

In two other scientific studies, one that was published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, rats were given cinnamon extract to see if it would improve how they metabolized glucose. These findings may help scientists understand the role of cinnamon on the body, and open the door to much needed research. Taken a step further, cinnamon may also help people reduce their chance of developing diabetes and improve the body’s ability to balance blood sugars.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspections Best Money You Ever Spend

Q. We’re getting ready to purchase a home. What’s involved in a home inspection, and is it mandatory when buying a house?

A. A home inspection is not mandatory when you purchase a house, but I recommend that you have any home you’re planning on buying inspected by a licensed inspector. In fact, I’d insist upon it.

A home inspector has the training and expertise to provide an objective opinion about the condition of the home. The inspector will carefully examine the home’s structure, roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling system, and appliances. He or she will provide a written assessment of the house’s condition.

The inspection will tell you what repairs might need to be made before buying. The inspection can alert you to any serious problems the house may have—before you buy the house. There’s a period after a contract is accepted when you can have the inspection completed. Fees are paid to the inspector by the buyer.

If there are problems or repairs that need to made, you can request in writing during the specified period that these repairs be made as a condition of the sale. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“ICE” Campaign Can Save Lives

In Case of Emergency

A campaign encouraging people to enter an emergency contact number into their cellular phone’s address book under the heading “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) is spreading throughout the world.

Originally established in the UK, ICE allows paramedics or police to be able to contact a designated relative or next-of-kin in an emergency situation – which could be vital in a life or death situation. Almost everyone carries a cell phone, and with ICE, paramedics or emergency workers will quickly know who to contact. In many cases, the friend or relative may even know the medical history or other important information of the injured person.

Setting up your “ICE” is easy. Simply select a person to contact in case of emergency, then enter their phone number in your phone’s address book under the description “ICE.” That’s all there is to it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life’s Truisms…

• Money doesn’t bring you happiness, but it enables you to look for it in more places.
• Your conscience may not keep you from doing wrong, but it sure keeps you from enjoying it.
• The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
• A closed mouth gathers no feet.
• Money isn’t everything...there’s credit cards, money orders, and travelers checks.
• A modern pioneer is a woman who can get through a rainy Saturday with a television on the blink.
• Misers aren’t much fun to live with, but they make great ancestors.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Driving Tips In Bad Weather

Truck drivers know what to do when driving in rain and fog, but do you? First, make sure your windshield is clean. This will improve your windshield wipers effectiveness. Secondly, be aware that rain can cause serious problems after a period of dry weather. A slight drizzle combined with the oil on the road, can make the road as slick as ice.

Driving in fog can be the most hazardous because of its changeability. In dense fog, the American Truckers Association (ATA) recommends you pull off the road. If that’s not possible, adjust your speed to whatever vision you do have. Here are six tips when driving in fog:

1. Drive with headlights on low beam, whether it’s day or night.
2. Reduce your speed.
3. Roll down your windows to hear traffic you can’t see.
4. Use your defroster in addition to your wipers for maximum vision.
5. Use the right edge of the road as a guide. Be patient and don’t pass.
6. Never stop on the roadway when there is fog.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two Ways You Can Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s research is a hot topic, and could have a big impact on your life. There’s an estimated 4.5 million cases in the U.S. reports the Alzheimer’s Association, and that number is growing. But there’s hope!

You may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by taking two important vitamins, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Vitamins C and E are the focus of many research studies, which indicate they may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that antioxidants may absorb damaging free radicals in the brain and prevent cell damage.

A Johns Hopkins study found that people taking both Vitamins C and E were 64% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease four years later. The recommended daily doses for Vitamin C are 500 to 1,500 mg, and 400 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin E daily. Be sure you check with your doctor to determine which dose is best for you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Neatness Pays Off

Your boss may be watching your neatness factor. A study of 2,600 bosses commissioned by DYMO Corp. found that bosses think the organization and cleanliness of a worker’s desk is important.
The bosses reported a link between organizational skills and job performance. Bosses said they look more favorably at “neat-niks” than the “slackers.” Over 50% of those bosses interviewed consider it when they conduct annual reviews, hand out raises, and offer promotions. You may want to think about clearing off your desk!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Seattle Humane Society - Your Key to a Longer Life!

Could Owning a Pet
Help You Live Longer?

What would you say if you could buy a medicine that lowered your blood pressure, improved your cardiovascular health, reduced your anxiety and stress, and made you happy...everyday. Would you buy it?

We know how much love and affection pets can bring to our lives, but there’s more. Scientific studies have found that having a pet can significantly improve your health. Here are five ways pets can positively impact your health:

1. Heart Benefits. The American Journal of Cardiology reports pet owners are more likely to survive a heart attack than those who don’t own a pet. Another study found people who owned a dog were more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those who didn’t have a dog.

2. Lower Blood Pressure. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that pets help lower blood pressure (and heart rates). An American study found men who owned a cat had a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure than men who didn’t own a cat. And after a stressful event, their blood pressure returned to normal more quickly.

3. Mood Elevator. People, particularly seniors, who own pets are less likely to be depressed and lonely. Pets can provide companionship, humor, and add playfulness to our daily lives.

4. Kids and Health. Research presented at the 10th International Conference on Human Animal Interaction 2004 found that children who have pets have fewer sick days. They also reported that children who had pets had higher levels of self-esteem and functioned better emotionally. Research studies also found that children with pets coped better with divorce.

5. An Exercise Buddy. Dogs need regular exercise, which also gets their owners walking. This can improve their overall health. As an added benefit people improve their social network as they socialize their pet.

There is a word of caution, however. Owning a pet requires your time and a financial commitment. If you’re not ready for that responsibility, it’s best to hold off owning a pet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Read These Labels To Become A Smarter Shopper

Consumers should be able to make better buying decisions in the coming months, thanks to two new voluntary labels that will appear on U.S. products:

 “Nutrition Keys.” This icon will summarize important nutrition information from the Nutrition Facts Label and put it on the front of the package. It will display calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving and say how each serving contributes to overall diet based on recommended daily nutrition intake (expressed as “percent of daily value”). Other nutrients that may appear on some products are potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein. To see what this looks like, go to

 “USDA Certified Biobased Product” seal. This will identify products made from renewable resources composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. As products get certified, you’ll start seeing it on everything from trash bags and cleaning supplies to skin care products. The USDA hopes the seal will give the same consumer boost to biobased products as Energy Star did to energy-efficient appliances. See an example of the seal at

 But wait – there’s more! The Department of Agriculture announced that nutrition labels will be required on meat and poultry beginning Jan.1, 2012. The labels will list calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and vitamins for 40 commonly purchased cuts of beef, poultry, pork and lamb.

 Still to come: Requirements for chain restaurants and vending machine operators to post calorie information. Some restaurants (such as Subway) already make the information available.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don’t Get Caught In These Risky Investor Traps

You’re anxious to rebuild your nest egg but want to make sure you invest wisely. Here are some of the top products and practices you should avoid, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association:

Foreign Exchange Trading Schemes. Beware of salesmen who claim to have algorithms or propriety software programs that allow them to beat the market. State regulators have found situations where there are no trades; the money is simply stolen.

“Green” schemes. New energy-efficient technologies are popular, but be wary of those exploiting headlines related to the Gulf oil spill clean-up and “clean” innovations, such as wind energies or carbon credits.

Oil & Gas schemes. These investments tend to be unsuitable for smaller investors who can’t afford the risk. While ventures can be legitimate, some promoters structure their “general partnerships” to avoid securities regulation.

Affinity fraud. Scam artists like to prey on groups, such as church members and professional groups. Seek further information from an unbiased, independent source.

Undisclosed conflicts of interest. Demand that anyone giving advice or recommendations disclose how they are compensated.

Private or special deals. Although properly used by many legitimate issuers, private offerings have become an attractive option for con artists who steal money by promoting special deals.

“Off the Books” deals. Be cautious if your broker offers an investment on the side instead of one sold through his or her employer.

Unsolicited online pitches. Fraudulent investment scammers are now using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, YouTube) to solicit unsuspecting investors. Approach any unsolicited investment opportunity with suspicion.

How do you avoid getting taken? Do your homework, be skeptical and only do business with licensed brokers and advisers. Check out any adviser before you invest at a site such as Report any suspicion of fraud to your state or provincial securities regulator.