Monday, July 07, 2008

when the rubber meets the roll

(Photo Credit: Michael Bandy, Deseret News)

I used to get annoyed with the "geez, gas prices are so high this summer" stories that happened every year. Every year, politicans tried to pander by either promising to drill our way to low prices (like McCain, Bush and other Republicans in Congress) or getting "tough with Big Oil" by either taxing their winfall profits, or investigating them for illegal business practices that would artifically jack up prices (the Democrats' approach). But since gas has pretty much doubled in the span of two years or so, it really has become an actual problem that is truly hurting lots of individuals and businesses. And not just people who have to drive a lot like FedEx or Meals on Wheels. The high cost of oil (and the supremacy of the Iowa Caucuses) has lead to increasing use of Ethenol, which means less grains to feed animals and people with, and therefore higher priced grains.

Case in point: my (and Gov. Huntsman's family's) favorite brunch spot, Avenues Bakery.
The South Temple bakery, a few doors down from the Governor's Mansion and frequented by city officials, politicians and neighbors alike, has notified customers it won't do business at its current location after July 20.
The 5-year-old business is coping with skyrocketing wheat and egg prices, and it no longer can afford rent that the owners say was exorbitant to begin with — nearly $11,000 a month.

"This is the full picture of what food prices have done," Chadbourne said.

The situation has apparently shocked several customers, and some are even calling the landlord, the couple said. One of those callers will be Salt Lake economic development director Bob Farrington.

Farrington hopes to help keep the business there. He wants to bring about a resolution between the bakery and landlord, he told the Deseret News last week. If he can't, he hopes to look at zoning issues affecting the move.

"I think there's been a good popular response to their predicament," Farrington said, adding that a survey showed residents most cherish locally owned businesses, of which the bakery is "a poster child."
Some foods went up. Milk jumped 4 percent for the month to hit the baseline price of $2.69 a gallon recorded in April. Eggs went up 30 percent in the past month to $1.63 a dozen, but they are 15 percent cheaper than they were in April. Cheerios are up 4.5 percent, and bananas jumped 6 percent for the month and since April.

Gas prices had the biggest increase — up 4 percent for the month to $4.02 a gallon. That's a 25.6 percent increase since April, when a gallon of gas cost $3.20. The prices are affecting Utahns, who are coming in droves to participate in Crossroads Urban Center's Community Food Co-op of Utah. The co-op buys food collectively at wholesale prices, providing an array of healthful food for about half the price.

The co-op now counts close to 6,000 members, up by 1,000 since late April, assistant director Bill Germundson said. The co-op has added four new distribution teams in communities from Kearns to Ogden in the past month.

"Word is getting out," Germundson said. "Gas prices are hitting home to people. That affects the food prices. We're at the right time and the right place for growth."

Anyone can join the co-op. They're just asked to perform two hours of community service each month for participating.
My wife's dreams of walking down with our baby down to Avenues Bakery for brunch...but he won't be here until September. Hopefully, something can get worked out so that the bakery can stay. Just in case though, you will find me there eating brunch this weekend.

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