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September 2006
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Optout Information

I wanted to share an important message regarding identity theft for all of you.  Many of you may have heard but just as I was reminded to register for the National Do Not Call Registry, because I receive a deluge of phone calls every day, I was reminded to Opt Out from my credit information being sold.  Our credit information is sold by the very own credit bureaus who track your credit information.

Apparently the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) have been capitalizing on your identity.  These companies have been collecting the inquiries that are made and are selling them to other lenders and “Name Traffickers” who will purchase and resell it – all without your permission.

Your name, address, phone number (including your unlisted number), credit score, your current debt, your history and property information are all being sold.  To protect your identity being sold over and over by the credit bureaus, you can remove your name from these lists.  You can either call 1-888-567-8688 or go online to OptOut. You must register either way at least 48 hours before you have your credit checked.  There are different time frames you can choose from but at least if you receive a phone call after your credit is checked, you will be aware of other lenders contacting you.

Before you apply for a loan, be aware that other lenders will coincidentally contact you (who have paid for these “hot lists”) to tell you that your information was “given to them” or "passed on to them" because they were able to offer much better interest rates and terms.  Yikes!  And a lot of the time, you never know your information has been given to a completely different lender.

You as the consumer must protect yourself and be aware of these tactics that are being done all the time.  Another bonus of registering your name with the optout program online or by phone, is that it also protects you from the pre-approved credit offers that arrive in the mail.  This is one of the leading causes of identity theft, not to mention, the number of inquiries made on your credit report that sometimes can lower your credit score.

I’m sorry to report that this practice of sharing, selling or swapping your information is legal.  They are considered just marketing tactics.  However, although you have the right to shop for the best service to meet your lending needs, YOU should be the one to choose and not without your consent or understanding on how it is being done. 

Also, for a free credit report you can check out your Annual Credit Report too. 

In season at the Old LA (Highland Park) Farmers Market

From Seth Budick:

Farmersmarket_8 My apologies to those of you who came in search of Jerusalem Artichokes last week only to be disappointed by their absence. Jan, of Frog Dog Farms, was sick last week, but promised me that she'd be back ASAP, hopefully this Tuesday! Meanwhile, we saw a variety of exciting new items at the market, including that most fragrant fruit of them all, the guava. When I was in Hawaii several years ago, I rarely drank water, despite the heat, because on every hike, I saturated myself with guava juice from the omnipresent ripe guavas lining the trails. Ever since, the scent of ripe guavas has embodied the tropics for me, so when I thought I detected that aroma, I followed my nose to Gama Farms booth, which overflowed with the small green fruits.

Guavas, in case you've never consumed them raw, range in color from green to yellow on the outside, with the flesh anything from pink to yellow to white. The interior is filled with soft pulp and many small seeds, which also range from quite hard to only slightly crunchy, depending on the variety. Many guava recipes will have you remove the seeds, but even if they are very hard, they can still be swallowed with no harm done. Gama Farms had both pink and white fleshed fruits last week, the white ones being slightly sweeter, based on the specimens I sampled. A few guavas at home will perfume your kitchen, begging to be consumed. I like to use them in a poached guava dessert, inspired by the amazing restaurant, La Casita Mexicana, in Bell. Cut 4-6 guavas in half and place them in a saucepan with 1C water and 1C sugar. Bring the liquid to a low boil and then simmer the fruit over very low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the guavas and place them in a bowl while you continue to reduce the syrup for another 10 minutes. Add the syrup back to the fruit, along with 1/2t vanilla (and 1-2T tequila, if you like) and then place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, the longer the better. Serve the guavas with syrup at room temperature, with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the fruit. Guavas contain an astronomical amount of vitamin C and are also rich in vitamin A and dietary fiber, so no guilt is necessary in enjoying this dessert.

In addition to guavas, you can now find both Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons at the market as well as the first tangerines of the season. If you're a persimmon fan, you know the difference between the crisp Fuyu, with its apple-like consistency, and the Hachiya, which is eaten soft, at which point it becomes juicy to the point of practically liquefying in your mouth. Gama farms was also selling prickly pear fruits (tunas) for the first time last week, along with the nopales, cactus paddles, that have been available for the last few months. For an up to date list of all of the produce available at the market, take a look at

This week, we'll be celebrating Halloween at the market with a haunted house, trick or treating, face painting and a costume contest. Patrons without costumes will not be allowed to purchase guavas, well, maybe they will, but join the fun at the market in costume or not.

As always, you can also pick up fresh bread, along with artisanal cheese and fruit preserves at the market. And if you come hungry, you need not go home that way, with roasted chicken, corn and potatoes, along with Korean barbeque and tamales vying to fill you up.

Please stop by the market for fresh, field-ripened, high quality produce from local farmers and spend time with your friends, neighbors and other community members.

The Old LA (Highland Park) Certified Farmers Market is located adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line station at Marmion Way between Ave. 57 & 58 and operates Tuesdays from 3-8 pm.

Visit the market website at

-seth budick