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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Once limited to health-food stores, organic products have now become so widespread that they can be found in the average grocery store. They may be ubiquitous, but they’re also more expensive.

According to WebMD, consumers can expect to pay as much as 50-100 percent more for organic foods. Part of this increase can be attributed to higher production costs, as organic products do have to comply with standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Another factor is perception: Consumers typically believe organic foods to be healthier, and more sustainable, and so expect to pay a little extra.

If one’s goal in buying organic is to eat more sustainably, cheaper options, such as buying local or seasonal produce, are just as effective as buying organic. Rather than shell out for organic products that have been shipped in, you can learn more about sustainable, local eating at simplesteps.org

If the goal is to reduce exposure to pesticides, there are steps you can take to determine whether it’s worth the extra cost.

One easy place to save money is on fruits and vegetables that have thick peels or rinds that protect from pesticide contamination. Foods such as avocados, onions, pineapples, sweetcorn, mangoes, kiwis, and even quinoa have all been found to be low in pesticides and are naturally insect resistant, reducing the need for chemical additives. Also save on broccoli, papayas, asparagus, and bananas.

Unlike most foods, the USDA does not regulate use of the term “organic” on seafood labels, so be wary of brands using the term. Instead, choose fish with low mercury contamination that is sustainably harvested, such as herring, flounder, tilapia, trout, wild salmon, or lobster produced in North America.

Avoid shark, farmed salmon, tuna, imported swordfish and canned crab. More information can be found at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

In order to be certified as organic, eggs, meat, and poultry must be sourced from animals that have never received antibiotics or growth hormones. Truly organic meats can be difficult to find, so be wary of labels and carefully prepare foods at home. This guide can help locate restaurants and grocery stores that carry organic meats and poultry.

To sum up: It’s worth spending a little extra for organic on thin-skinned fruits that absorb pesticides and other chemical additives more easily. Fruits such as peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries, nectarines, and pears have all been found to contain high percentages of chemical contaminants and are not naturally resistant to insects. Vegetables worth splurging on include bell peppers, celery, spinach, potatoes, and lettuce.

Even when buying organic produce, the best way to reduce pesticide exposure is to thoroughly clean and prepare food before consumption. Wash fruits and vegetables under streaming water to remove excess dirt, residues, and bacteria. Remove not only the peels from fruits and vegetables, but the outer leaves of leafy greens as well. For meat and poultry products, trim visible fat and skin, as pesticide residues can collect in fat trimmings.

Photo: Take Back Your Health Conference 2015 via Flickr

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]