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Hurricanes and the high price of tomatoes

Prices for tomatoes jumped 30% in October. Imagine the outcry if this were gasoline! Here's some background from the Star-Ledger:

Shipments are down because citrus and tomato crops were devastated in Florida when hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit major farming areas in that state.

The storms effectively killed the harvest. Farmers replanted fields, but the new crop won't hit the market until late this month.

Hurricanes weren't the only problem.

Heavy rainfall in California and pest problems in Mexico combined to limit the number of tomatoes that could be shipped from those areas, said Gilmer, the Florida trade group spokesman.

"It's the perfect storm of three separate events to create a tomato shortage," he said.

The response? Among others, some McDonald's outlets are charging for ketchup packets, and Wendy's is putting tomatoes on their burgers only by request.