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Dec 3, 2012

In a recent interview with Howard G. Buffet, farmer, philanthropist, and son of billionaire Warren Buffet, he commented on the relatively unknown problem of hunger in the U.S. Studies show that one in five children don't always know where their next meal will come from. 

Interviewer:You've supported global(1) hunger relief for years; what made you turn your attention(2) to America?

Howard Buffet :Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse. In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it.The number of people who are living on the edge(3) has exploded. If you're choosing between medicine and food, or paying the electric bill and food, those are tough(4) choices, and they happen everyday. But there's no reason why we can't put hunger out of business(5) in this country. Farmers produce more food today than we did five years ago. People are hungry not because there aren't enough farmers or food, but because they can't afford it(6). There's also an estimated $3 billion worth of food(7) wasted because farmers either can't get the labor to harvest it or it doesn't look perfect enough for the store shelves(8). There are some great programs that collect produce that isn't acceptable for the supermarket and get it into the food banks. That's next on my list - making that system work better(9).

1. 'Global' is self explanatory. The word 'world' can also be substituted.

a. The global economy is in recession.

b. That piece of news will go global. *Here we wouldn't substitute with 'world'.

c. Global wheat prices will go up because of droughts.

2. 'To turn one's attention to...' is to focus on. You can imagine someone turning his head to look at something.

a. He finished fixing the broken pipe, then turned his attention to mopping the floor.

b. When I finish my essay, I will turn my attention to my art project.

3. 'To be on the edge' or 'to live on the edge' can mean a couple of things. The first could mean that you are at risk (in danger, eg. in poverty, likely to get ill). It can also mean that you are very stressed or close to having mental health problems. The second phrase implies that you either enjoy living a risky life, or that you are poor.

a. I sky dive in the morning, and cave dive in the afternoon; I like living on the edge.

b. That neighborhood lives on the edge (of society); most of the residents are hungry.

c. If he gets any more pressure from work, I'm afraid it'll push him to the edge.

4. 'Tough' is one of those miserable spellings in English that I'm afraid you just have to memorize. It's actual meaning is strong, durable, or hard to chew, but it's used often as the word 'difficult'.

a. That apple pie was as tough as an old boot!

b. Having a knee operation was a tough decision to make; but I can now walk without pain.

c. That truck is so tough; it can handle heavy loads and bad weather conditions.

5. 'To put something out of business' can be used figuratively meaning to stop something.

a. Good education will put ignorance out of business.

b. That chain store put the smaller shops out of business.

6. The format of this sentence is important to understand and use: '.....not because, .......but because....'. This is good practice.

a. The students do well in his class not because he's friendly, but because he explains things well.

b. He should be respected not because he's rich, but because he is generous.

c. The film was a success not because it was good, but because it was popular.

7. '....worth of ....' 

a. There are 5 million pounds worth of gold coins in the chest.

b. There are $150 worth of lottery tickets in her bag.

c. There were $10,000,000 worth of investments in the project.

8. 'Store shelves' here means the shelves that are in the shops and supermarkets. Remember 'shelves' is the plural of 'shelf'. Words with similar singulars and plurals are:

Self, selves; elf, elves; half, halves;wife, wives.

9. More examples of this sentence are:

a. That's next on my list, - getting (to get) into shape.

b. That's what we need to do next, - employ more staff for each store.

c. That's his plan, - going (to go) to Germany and finding (to find) a job. 

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