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» May 16, 2006 «
As California farmers race to plant their cotton, tomatoes and other crops, they're absorbing high fuel prices. The California Energy Commission says the state's gasoline and diesel fuel production dropped last week ... due to planned and unplanned maintenance at several refineries. The commission says the planned repairs are completed, so production should rebound. It says demand for fuel has been flat thus far this year, but prices increased when supplies fell short.
Soaring fuel prices have hit the pilots who fly agricultural aircraft, and they're passing along those additional costs to their farm customers. Rice growers have their crops planted by airplanes, and other farmers hire planes to treat their crops against disease or insects. Pilots say their fuel has jumped in price from $1.20 a gallon to as much as $3. Farmers have seen prices to hire agricultural aircraft rise by 5 percent to 10 percent this spring.
Higher fuel costs also affect consumer behavior at the supermarket. A survey by the Food Marketing Institute indicated that shoppers are buying fewer luxury items, cooking more and eating out less. Nearly half the people who responded to the survey said the high energy prices have influenced their purchasing habits. Among other strategies, those consumers are redeeming coupons, stocking up on bargains and buying lower-priced brands.
Favorable mentions on TV cooking programs have helped boost the popularity of avocado oil. The California Avocado Commission describes the oil's flavor as "buttery," and says it has found use in cooking or in salad dressing. Avocado oil has perhaps the highest flash point of any cooking oil, at 550 degrees, and it contains monounsaturated fat. Several California companies produce avocado oil.Top