As word of food riots and export shutdowns in Asia reached California in recent weeks, worried shoppers have been buying up hundreds of pounds of rice at a time from the Asian supermarkets that line Sacramento's Stockton Boulevard.
"When people saw the price jump $2 or $3, they started buying like crazy — 10 bags, 15 bags," said Cu Van, a floor manager at Goldstar Supermarket. Each bag weighs 50 pounds.
In recent weeks, the retail price for a 50-pound sack of Thai jasmine rice, the prized variety served steamed in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, has risen from roughly $20 to $40, straining budgets for families and restaurants alike.
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