By Connor Lynch
GUELPH — Normally Western Ontario cash crop farmer Crosby Devitt wouldn’t find himself flipping through his son Clayton’s Grade 8 textbooks. But Clayton, who attends a Guelph public school, told his father there’s something weird in his 17-year-old textbook titled Human Geography.
Devitt was “shocked” at what he saw. A reference to pesticide spraying was called “carpet bombing.” The expression was used in the Second World War and refers to dropping a large number of bombs in the same area to ensure the entire area is hit. A section title in the book reads: “Down on the Factory Farm.” Below that, a subhead reads: “Agribusiness is Not the Answer.”
The text goes on to say that :“Large-scale, highly mechanized agribusiness may not be the most beneficial way to farm in all parts of the world. Growing just one crop, known as monoculture, reduces biodiversity; the intensive use of fossil fuels, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides causes pollution; and farm machinery can cause soil erosion.”
Devitt tweeted out a few choice photos from the textbook. He was surprised at how many people replied, mirroring his thoughts, while others were more critical. Crystal Mackay of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity tweeted back saying, “Sadly systemic for decades.”
Denis Tremorin, of Pulse Canada, tweeted, “I’d say it’s time for a good old book burning!”
Devitt has since met with the teacher and said a good conversation came of it. He declined to identify the school. The textbook is not used province wide.
“The teacher basically expressed the challenge of understanding every topic that they teach,” Devitt said. He added that the teacher wasn’t teaching that section of the textbook and invited Devitt to come to the class to share his own knowledge about farming with the students, which he plans on doing, though a date has yet to be set.
Said Devitt: “The teacher teaches every subject, and they can’t know everything. So if we in agriculture can help, that makes a lot of sense to me.”