Speed Reading — Baguette Prices - Level 6 — 500 wpm

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France is synonymous with bread and pastries. In particular, the croissant and the baguette spring to mind. The latter is currently under pressure. Increasing costs are forcing many bakers to close their bakeries or raise baguette prices. Soaring energy costs and wheat supply issues caused by the Ukraine War are making life financially untenable for many in the baguette-making industry. One baker, Julien Pedussel, 36, expressed his fears for his livelihood. He may have to raise his baguette prices from one to four euros. He told reporters: "I cannot pay an electricity bill of 12,000 euros with a turnover of 20,000 euros." He is concerned that big supermarkets are still selling baguettes for less than a euro.

The humble baguette is on the United Nations List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Baguette prices are of such concern that France's President Macron has intervened. He recently described the bread as being "250 grams of magic and perfection". France's Ministry for the Economy has initiated an "electricity damper". This will allow bakers to limit by how much their electricity bills rise. The ministry said: "Aid for bakers has been reinforced and eligible bakeries can benefit from it." Consumers are facing tough choices. One lamented: "I won't pay three euros because it's double the price. Maybe, sometimes I would because there is no equivalent to a baguette." She added she might have to start baking them herself.

Comprehension questions
  1. What does the article say France is synonymous with?
  2. What might bakers have to do besides increase prices?
  3. What did a French baker express fears for?
  4. How much money a year does the baker in the article make?
  5. How much can people buy a baguette for in French supermarkets?
  6. How much did France's president say a baguette weighed?
  7. What has France's Ministry for the Economy initiated?
  8. Who can benefit from government aid?
  9. What does the article say consumers are facing?
  10. Who said she might start baking baguettes?

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