It was interesting to listen to Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory owner Ruben Leal talk about how the ethanol market is affecting his family-owned business on a micro level. I have read a few stories about how corn prices are skyrocketing because of ethanol — so high that even the processing plants for ethanol are going under — but I hadn’t thought about how it might be affecting our small Tex-Mex businesses until talking with Leal for October’s Advocate CliffDweller piece.

Leal is hoping that the United States begins creating ethanol with sugar instead of corn, like Brazil. "Sugar cane grows a whole lot faster than corn and is cheaper," Leal says, punctuating his commetns with: "These are scary times."

One other tidbit Leal mentioned that I found interesting: the ethnic diversity of his clientele. He says roughly 40 percent are Hispanic, 30 percent are white, and 30 percent are black. Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory has six locations, but these customer statistics are unique to Oak Cliff, he says.