Sister Carol, I Wayne, Agent Sasco, Queen Ifrica, Jah Mason, Natural Black, and Warrior King are set to headline the first-ever staging of Ital Food Fest, a one-day celebration of Ital cuisine, showcasing Jamaica and Rastafari’s role, as pioneers of what has now become the global plant-based movement.

The event, which is set for July 15, will take place at the Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in Priory St Ann, and will also feature upcoming acts Khalilah Rose, J’Adiore and Azalineage.

According to the organizers, lectures and live food demonstrations at the Ital Food Lab stage, will form the key activities on the day, and will be conducted by world-renowned Rastafarian chefs, led by the iconic Dr Aris Latham.

The festival will also showcase holistic practitioners and more than 150 vendors, selling what the promoters have described as “elevated Ital cuisine, natural products, fashion, arts, and wellness practitioners offering healing treatments.”

The event is the brainchild of UK-based, Portmore, St Catherine native Michael Cunningham and his wife Felicia, whose roots are in Darliston, Westmoreland.   

At the first leg of the two-pronged launch in New York, on Wednesday, Michael explained that the event is not only about food, but also music, as the  idea is to celebrate and educate, “so that people leave nourished in mind soul and spirit and body”.

“I was born and bred in Portmore Jamaica, so the whole concept of Ital, has been something that we grew up with.   We believe that food has the power to unite people and a plant-based diet can nourish both the body and soul,” he explained.

“We have had this concept from independence and even before that and it’s not just food, it is a total livity.  So that’s why we wanted the festival to reflect that.  So it’s not just gonna be just food,” he added..

Felicia told DancehallMag that the slate of artists billed for the musical aspect of the event were hand-picked specifically because they fit the ital- living ethos.

“We chose artistes that truly embody ital livity.  We were especially interested in having artistes on board who live that way, and who have farms.  Artistes like Jah Mason, Agent Sasco – he has his farm to table concept – and Iwayne, who embodies ital livity.  So it was very important for us to have artistes that understand the roots and culture,” she explained.

Michael also explained that Ital Food Fest’s mission, is to present the best of Ital livity and the promotion of Jamaica as a culinary destination.  

“It is the coming together of health-conscious family worldwide to celebrate the love of all things natural, in Jamaica, which boasts natural beauty in abundance,” he said.

“It is a festival that galvanises the attention of the diaspora and beyond, bringing together those with diverse interests, from wellness to, holistic Health, those who breath a plant-based lifestyle and relish amazing gastronomical experiences. The festival is also aimed at attracting Reggae lovers, and those seeking uplifting cultural experiences,” he emphasized.

Coined by Rastafarians, Ital is a variation of the term ‘vital’.  An Ital diet, is one which is based on natural, unprocessed foods, and the one to which Rastafarians adhere.  Consequently, Rastafarians primarily vegetarians who eat no meat, poultry, pork or shellfish, but in some cases, they do eat fish.

The belief system is compulsory in the Nyabinghi Mansion of Rastafari, which dictates that followers should eat food grown naturally and unmodified, from the earth, also called “high-vibration foods”.

In addition to the Ital food offerings, Ital Food Fest will feature a herbology stage, where renowned herbalists and wellness experts, will conduct educational presentations on the use of herbs and plant-based remedies, to promote health and wellness, and enable patrons to discover new ways to incorporate these into their daily routines.  

Partners of the event include Wellness Experience Jamaica, Conu’co Market, Taste Of Ital, Conscious Reggae Party and Save Soil Jamaica.  

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