Atlantic ag ministers spearhead local-food challenge

Atlantic Canada’s four agriculture ministers have pledged to go on a day-long diet Sept. 4 made up strictly of foods produced in the region.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Kathy Dunderdale, Prince Edward Island’s George Webster, Nova Scotia’s John MacDonell and New Brunswick’s Ronald Ouellette each issued separate statements Monday urging residents to support the Eat Atlantic Challenge, to be held a week from Friday.

Those interested in participating in the challenge can make their pledge online, at a site where a provincial leaderboard of pledges is kept, along with a map of Atlantic Canada showing where participants live, plus links to a related Facebook page and to grocery chain Co-op Atlantic, which started the challenge last year.

“The whole idea of the Eat Atlantic Challenge is to get people thinking about the foods they eat and also to realize how easy it is to choose to eat regional produce,” Dunderdale said in her release Monday.

“This is the same concept as our own provincial agriculture awareness campaign, Buy Fresh, Buy Local. We hope that people will decide to continue to choose local produce long after the challenge is over.”

The challenge aims to increase awareness of the wide range of food available from the region, MacDonell said in his release, adding that the province with the most pledges will be declared the challenge winner, “complete with bragging rights.”

Webster noted in a release Monday that Islanders have already responded “positively” to the Buy PEI campaign established by the P.E.I. ag department last year to boost awareness and availability of local food products.

It’s not yet known whether Webster will be able to participate in the event after suffering what CBC on Monday described as “a mild heart attack.”

Webster went to hospital Sunday, is now “resting comfortably” and is expected to be released sometime in the next few days, a provincial spokesperson told CBC.

The P.E.I. cabinet is expected to meet Tuesday to decide if an interim replacement will be needed for Webster, CBC said.

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