Just Us! Coffee wins inaugural Eat Atlantic Food Product of the Year Award It was a true nail-biter of an ending, as Wolfville, Nova Scotia’s Just Us! Coffee Roasters edged out the competition to emerge as the “people’s choice” winner in the Eat Atlantic Food Product of the Year award as the “people’s choice” winner in the Eat Atlantic Food Product of the Year award.Following six weeks of voting by local-food lovers across Atlantic Canada, Just Us! Coffee garnered 1670 votes, just 57 more than runner-up Covered Bridge.

The announcement was made at a celebration attended by NS Agriculture Minister, John MacDonell on Wednesday, August 31. The Eat Atlantic Challenge is a buy-local campaign organized and sponsored by Co-op Atlantic and the region’s Co-op stores throughout Atlantic Canada since 2008.

“Congratulations to Just Us! Coffee and all of our Nova Scotia finalists who participated in this great challenge, which profiles the importance of choosing great local products today and each day,” says Agriculture Minister, John MacDonell.

“Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and passion Atlantic Canadians have for food from close to home,” says Leo Leblanc, Vice President, Marketing and Communications for Co-op Atlantic about the award, which was accepted by Just Us! Coffee CEO Tom Smith, and Chair of the Board Melissa Stewart. “Just Us! is an amazing example of a co-operative business that has found a way to combine a people-first approach with an excellent product.”

Just Us! received the greatest number of votes among the Top 10 finalists at Co-op’s website. More than 7,000 total votes were cast.

Four other Nova Scotia producers were among the finalists: Market Town Sausages of Berwick, Beth the Pie Lady Pies of Greenwich, Scotian Gold Honey Crisp Apples of Coldbrook, and Knol Farms Frozen Blueberries of Collingwood.

MacDonell says the success of these products helps demonstrate the government of Nova Scotia’s commitment to encouraging buying local, along with the delivery of Select Nova Scotia.

“Eating foods from local sources leads to greater market access for our farmers and helps create good jobs to grow the economy,” says Mr. MacDonell.

“This event, which helps consumers learn about the great food products we make here year-round, is a great way to strengthen our region’s food industry, and all the thousands of people who work producing food for Atlantic Canadians,” says Don Newman, Executive Director of the Atlantic Food and Beverage Processors Association.

Since 2008, more than 35,000 consumers have visited the website to learn about food from the region and participate in challenges where they make pledges to increase their commitment to made-in-Atlantic foods. Co-op developed the campaign to promote the world-class products made right here in Atlantic Canada and encourage buying local in support of our region’s producers, our food and beverage industry, our economy and our environment.

September 2, 2011
Congratulations to Eva Tower

Congratulations to Eva Tower, Sackville, NB, left, winner of a $500 basket filled with Atlantic-produced products. Her name was drawn from the more than 7,000 Atlantic Canadians who voted in the Eat Atlantic Food Product of the Year Contest. Eva is presented with her prize by Sherry Bickerton manager of the Sackville Co-op store.

September 3, 2010
$250 Atlantic Food Basket Winner

September 3, 2010
Thousands enjoyed Eat Atlantic Challenge on September 2

From fresh garden produce to juicy steaks and sumptuous desserts, more than 2,000 Atlantic Canadians made September 2 a day to remember, as they followed through on the Eat Atlantic Challenge. Their pledge, made at, was to eat only food from close to home for the entire day. Choosing Atlantic first helps strengthen our region’s environment, economy, and future.

The event included a friendly competition among the Ministers of Agriculture for the four Atlantic provinces to see which would claim the most pledges. On a per capita basis, Prince Edward Island was the victor, with 549 Islanders pledging to eat Atlantic for the day. Nova Scotia had the most total pledges, with 781. In total, almost 2,100 Atlantic Canadians joined the Eat Atlantic Challenge.

“With all the great food that we produce here in Atlantic Canada, it’s not surprising that so many people made this effort,” says John Harvie, CEO of Co-op Atlantic, which organized the event. “And there is no reason to stop at this one day. Eating Atlantic is a great choice every day.”

To help encourage more Atlantic Canadians to make local and Atlantic food choices, Co-op is also beginning an ongoing event called Eat Atlantic Thursdays. People will be encouraged to make a promise to eat primarily Atlantic foods on that day, with the goal of encouraging people think of where their food comes from for every meal. The official launch of that program will come in early October.

This year’s Eat Atlantic Challenge also included the Let’s Grow Seed program, where 25,000 school children were given bean seeds allowing them to grow their own food, and an online video contest, where Atlantic Canadians expressed their love for local and Atlantic foods. Details and contest winners are available at

Co-op stores make it easy for people interested in where their food comes from, by tagging every Atlantic product on their shelves. As the enthusiasm for the Eat Atlantic Challenge shows, consumers are becoming more interested in where their food comes from, and it will be up to retailers to provide the products and information they need to act on their values, every day of the year.

September 2, 2010
Video Contest Winners

July 13, 2010
Video contest judges announced
Panel ranges from food producer to local food activists

What makes local and Atlantic food great? That’s the question that will be facing the judges of this summer’s Eat Atlantic Challenge Online Video Contest at, as they review videos by food lovers from across the region that creatively demonstrate the pleasure, purpose and challenges involved in food from close to home.

“Food touches on our lives in many different ways, and we wanted to make sure a number of perspectives were provided in the judging process,” explains Roméo Cormier, Public Affairs Manager for Co-op Atlantic, which organizes the annual Eat Atlantic Challenge on behalf of the region’s Co-op food stores and Country Stores. The four judges for the contest are:

  • Luke denHaan, co-owner of den Haan’s Garden World. He is a sixth-generation greenhouse vegetable grower in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.
  • Clara LeBlanc, a professional Agrologist for the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Aquaculture. Ms. LeBlanc works with NB food producers to assist them in developing new products and markets.
  • Ann Wheatley, treasurer and staff member of the PEI Cooper Institute. She works with grassroots organizations focused on progressive change in many areas, including local and regional food issues.
  • Kevin Jacobs, manager of Clarenville Area Consumers Co-op in Newfoundland and Labrador. Clarenville Co-op has actively participated in the Eat Atlantic Challenge since the first event in 2008.

The deadline for videos is August 15, and the winning video from each province will win a multimedia prize pack worth approximately $450. Winners will be announced during this year’s Eat Atlantic Challenge event on September 2. During last year’s Eat Atlantic Challenge, more than 4,500 people pledged to eat only local and Atlantic foods for the day

Videos and contest details can be viewed at

Cormier says organizing the video contest was a logical next step for the third year of the Eat Atlantic Challenge. “Co-op started the event mainly in our stores, to help Co-op members celebrate where their food comes from,” says Cormier. ‘Since then, it has really taken off and become more of a region-wide movement for local and regional food lovers. We have seen real enthusiasm for the challenge, and this video contest gives people a chance to share their passion with as many people as possible.”

“I would encourage anyone who cares about local and regional food to consider creating a video to help others understand how important it is to consider where our food comes from,” says Cormier.

June 15, 2010
Let’s Grow!
25,000 Atlantic kids are growing their own food this summer

It’s the story that has become a cliché. Ask young people today where their food comes from and they have only one answer: the grocery store.

But for 25,000 Atlantic schoolchildren receiving the Let’s Grow seed program through their schools this year, that’s not the case. Developed by Atlantic Canada’s Co-op stores, Let’s Grow includes a package of bean seeds, a fun activity guide with growing instructions, and interactive activities at the web site.

“Children have such a love of learning, we wanted to offer an activity that helps them understand the work and rewards of growing your own food,” explains Romeo Cormier, Public Affairs Manager for Co-op Atlantic, the Moncton, NB-based wholesale and service provider owned by the region’s Co-op food and farm stores. “Let’s Grow offers a hands-on approach to understanding our food.”

Based on regional curriculum plans, Let’s Grow is being distributed to all Grade 3 classes in English schools and all Grade 4 classes in French schools. Teachers have the option of using the Let’s Grow Teachers Guide to integrate the program into classroom studies, or distributing the packages to students with the suggestion that they participate at home as a family. All students can also register online at to receive and share growing tips and ideas, and for a chance to win one of five new bicycles.

Let’s Grow is one part of Co-op’s 2010 Eat Atlantic Challenge, which also includes an online video contest and the annual Eat Atlantic Challenge event on September 2.

“Let’s Grow is going to help strengthen food production in our province by getting families thinking and talking about the people who grow our food,” says Ronald Ouellette, New Brunswick’s Minister of Agriculture and Aquaculture. “This is a great initiative and I can’t wait to see the results from all these new young farmers.”

“With the Eat Atlantic Challenge, we have seen such a strong response from Atlantic Canadians looking to share their passion for local and Atlantic foods,” explains Cormier. “Now, with Let’s Grow, we are helping build an understanding of where our food comes from for years to come.”

June 15, 2010
Lights! Camera! Local!
Online video contest offers chance to share passion for food from region 

More than ever before, Atlantic Canadians are expressing their love of food from close to home. From farmers markets to home canning to label-checking in the grocery aisles, a new passion for Atlantic food is gripping the region.

The Eat Atlantic Online Video Contest is the chance for Atlantic Canadians to show the world what makes food from our region great. Organized by the region’s Co-op stores as part of the Eat Atlantic Challenge, the video contest is another attraction to the popular website.

All eligible videos will be 90 seconds or less, and a panel of three local food experts will select the best entry from each province. Each provincial winner will receive a $450 multimedia prize pack, which includes an iPod Nano and a 10-inch Dell Netbook computer. Contest entries must be received by August 15, and winners will be announced during the 3rd Annual Eat Atlantic Challenge Celebration, on September 2. Entries also will be posted at

“One of the most exciting things we have seen through the Eat Atlantic Challenge is how Atlantic Canadians want to share their love of food from our region,” says John Harvie, CEO of Co-op Atlantic, which is the wholesaler and service provider owned by Atlantic Canada’s Co-op food and farm supply stores. “On the website, at the stores, at community events, they express that they are proud of their commitment and want more people to understand why choosing Atlantic first is so important. This video contest is a new, creative way to share our stories.”

The Eat Atlantic Challenge has gained national attention since it began in 2008. Last year more than 4,500 Atlantic Canadians pledged to eat only Atlantic for the day, while the Agriculture ministers for the four Atlantic provinces staged a friendly competition for which province would garner the most pledges. Prince Edward Island was the province with the highest proportion of residents taking the pledge, while Nova Scotians were most numerous in pledging to eat only Atlantic foods for the day.

The Co-op system has always been a committed and integral part of the region’s food system. Started more than 80 years ago by farmers in the region, it is the only retailer involved in every stage of food production, from helping with producers plan their crops and products and selling them the items they need to grow their foods, to selling the end products through the Co-op stores.

“Choosing local and Atlantic first is good for our environment, our economy and our communities,” says Harvie. “We’re all very excited to see what kind of ideas and videos people come up with. Knowing Atlantic Canadians, they will be full of passion and insight, and could lead us toward a whole new level of appreciation for food from close to home.”

August 17, 2017