Rastafarians aren't allowed to eat just any food. A true Rasta only eats I-tal food. This is food that is cooked but served as raw as possible. It never touches chicals, it's natural and it isn't canned.

Many Rastas are vegetarians since it can't be nice to eat almost raw meat. Those Rastas who eat meat however don't eat pork since pigs are the scavengers of land. Fish however is common food for the Rastas though they're not allowed to eat any shellfood since lobsters, crabs, shrimps and so on are the scavengers of the sea and the fish that they eat must be no more than 12 inches long.

There are also restrictions on what a rasta may drink. Liquor, milk, coffee and soft drinks are seen as unnatural.


When making ital food, some ingredients may appear a bit strange, or may just have different names in different parts of the planet. What follows is a basic glossary of some common ital foodstuffs.

Ackee - The fruit of a West African tree introduced to Jamaica by the British. When ripe, the scarlet shell of the ackee splits open to reveal three shiny black seeds surrounded by three segments of edible flesh. The flesh is cooked and served as a vegetable which has a delicate flavor. Ackees are also available in tins.

Aubergine - Also known as Eggplant or Belangere, it comes in a variety of sizes and colours, the most common being deep-purple. It is cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Breadfruit - A large, round, green-skinned fruit cooked as vegetable. The creamy white flesh has a starchy texture. The central woody core is inedible and should be removed prior to serving.

Callaloo - Originally from Africa, the name refers to the leaves of the taro plant. Pak choy (Chinese spinach) or fresh leaf spinach may be substituted if fresh callaloo is not available.

Cassava - A tropical plant with long tuberous root covered with bark-like, hairy skin. When peeled, the flesh is white and hard. Cassava is eaten as a vegetable or made into flour for cakes and bread.

Cho cho - Also known as Christophene, the cho cho closely resembles a pear in shape, with a slightly prickly skin, colour ranges from pale green to white. It is boiled and eaten as a vegetable.

Pawpaw - Also called papaya, the long oval fruits are hard and green when unripe. At this stage they are often cooked as a vegetable. When ripe they are yellow/orange in colour and slightly soft. The flesh inside is yellow or coral-coloured and the centre filled with small black seeds.

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