PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (March 15, 2010) – In an effort to draw attention to some of its hidden gems, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (www.VacationStMaarten.com) is highlighting the Freedom Fighters Ital Shack (pictured right) – one of the smallest restaurants often overlooked among the 300-plus places to eat in the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Run by local activist, musician and Rastafarian, Ras Bushman, the Ital Shack serves organic vegan dishes grown on-premises at Bushman’s farm adjacent to the restaurant.
“The Ital Shack started as an agricultural project by one of our beloved reggae performers and activists who sought to prove that St. Maarten can
reduce its reliance on expensive foreign exports by growing healthier organic produce right here on the island,” said Regina LaBega, Director of Tourism for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.
“The project was a huge success and has developed into a major source of fruit and vegetables for some of St. Maarten’s finest hotels and restaurants, however, no one serves it up quite like Bushman and his wife with their traditional Rastafarian home cooking recipes,” noted LaBega.
Moderately priced with lunch dishes ranging from $5 to $8, Ras Bushman’s Freedom Fighters Ital Shack is a small vegan restaurant located at 7 Bush Road in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. The Ital Shack serves local organic, homegrown vegetarian food and fresh local juices without any of the chemicals one would find in packaged foods.
When not on premises, Bushman can often be found at one of the island’s many entertainment venues with his reggae band, the Freedom Fighters, who founded and have continued to perform at the annual Black Story Celebration Tribute to Bob Marley on the music legend’s birthday every year since Feb. 6, 2000.
Bushman (pictured left) and the Freedom Fighters can also be spotted at the Axum Art Café on Front Street in the heart of Philipsburg, where one can also hear poetry recitals and view masterpieces of some of the island’s most cherished painters and sculptors, including Mosera, the café’s proprietor.
In addition to his musical work, Bushman is extremely active within the Freedom Fighters Foundation, a non-profit organization pursuing the vital mission of keeping Caribbean culture alive. As the island’s strongest advocate for natural farming techniques, leading by example with his 100% organic farm, Bushman continues to be outspoken on the subject and sees it as his duty to educate all who will listen on the benefits of a healthy vegan diet – especially guests at his restaurant.
"Rastas generally adhere to a natural lifestyle," said Bushman, adding: "It has been said that the body is a temple and so it should be protected and cared for as such. All things in nature have been provided for I and I by the Almighty Jah and should be held sacred as life itself."
The Freedom Fighter’s Ital Shack is open for lunch only and closes shop in the late afternoon, at which point Bushman and has wife begin preparing home grown ingredients for the next day's menu. For more information, visit www.sxmfreedomfighters.com/restaurant or stop by in person at 7 Bush Road, Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
St. Maarten is truly a unique island in several ways. It is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, the Netherlands and France, creating a European-influenced vibe with a Caribbean flair. St. Maarten is also the culinary capital of the Caribbean with an eclectic array of elegantly-perfected culinary fusion to keep "food lovers" returning each year. And with more than 300 restaurants, the island has tastes to satisfy every palate and pocketbook.
Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island's 36 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions including the vastly abundant treasure of rare animal and plant species at the St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden. The historically-pivotal Fort Amsterdam, the St. Maarten Museum, and the picturesque and symbolic Mount Concordia, where the Treaty of Concordia was signed to promote the island's peaceful coexistence to forged the island's uniqueness with two cultures on one island for more 350 years ago.
The Dutch capital of Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping with bustling city atmosphere in the heart of the Caribbean, while nightlife activities provide endless entertainment with 14 casinos, numerous nightclubs with various entertainment opportunities. During the day water sport enthusiasts can take full advantage of the island's scuba diving and snorkeling facilities which are located throughout the island. The island boasts a wide array of marine biodiversity and unique underwater dive sites that include the H.M.S. Proselyte, a notable British frigate which sank in St. Maarten's waters since 1801.
Accommodations are varied with many facilities designed to exceed their most discerning travelers' expectations including elegant private villas, family oriented resorts, quaint cottages and luxury spa resorts. Air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from numerous of U.S. and Canadian cities as well as from Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
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