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Dollars and Sense: Stocks, healthy eating on my mind

As the market closed Friday at 1 p.m., I turned to the news to see how we did.

The headline was not about the Dow Jones averages. It was the announcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department that an arrest – actually arrests – had been made in the murder of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh. Surprise – the suspect under arrest is an illegal immigrant.

That story will knock the major corporate story that may put 68,000 employees out of work off the front page. The story, which followed a long string of worrisome news items about SHLD – Sears Holdings – may signal the absolute last gasp for a company that was once one of the most respected in the country, if not the world.

There is a slight chance that a last-minute rescue may be in the works. If you’re not familiar with the possible rescuer, it’s Eddie Lampert, who has already controlled Sears and Kmart. I’m not sufficiently familiar with the financial resources of Mr. Lampert, but the word “manipulator” often shows up alongside his name.

He is a master of using OPM to establish control of pieces of his financial empire. Just in case you’re not familiar with OPM, it stands for “other people’s money.” Nice work if you can get it, I suppose, and since Fast Eddie has broken no laws, maybe we should just think of him as a skilled opportunist. Assuming Mr. Lampert can put the funding together, perhaps some or all of the 68,000 employees can return to their jobs tomorrow.

A long shot, I would guess.


Now, I would like to offer some tips on saving money at the supermarket while, perhaps, boosting your health. The Harvard Health Letter highlights the most common “food fakes,” which I thought might be of interest. Starting with the words on the package, “Real fruits” or “Real vegetables.” The pictures may lead you to believe that the products have the same nutrition value as the real thing, when in fact they have a minimal amount of nutrition.

Here’s a red flag for you: “Contains fruit juice” is not the same as “100 percent fruit juice.”

Next, be wary of breads, rolls, crackers and other baked goods that tell you they are “made with whole grains.” That is not the same as 100 percent whole grains, perhaps just a minimal amount.

Perhaps my favorite deceptive label is either “Gluten-free” or “Cholesterol-free.” Neither gluten nor cholesterol are necessarily bad for most of the population. Health experts say “how much cholesterol you eat is no longer a primary concern.”

I’ve related this sad story before, but I’d like to close with it again. My best friend, all the way back to kindergarten, became a health fanatic in his early 20s. He had a Ph.D from Harvard and was first in his class in our high school.

Don and his wife, Susan, were more health conscious than anyone I’ve ever known. We visited them in Olympia, Washington, where Don was teaching. I noticed they had no microwave oven, and when I asked about it, they were absolutely certain that microwave ovens were a potential cause of cancer. I didn’t argue, but within a year of two, my good friend had died of cancer.

Happy New Year!

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at

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