DJ Cavem and Alkemia, eco hip-hop artists, organic gardeners and vegan chefs, spread the word about healthy eating and caring for the environment at two music events in early March. They performed at Options High School on Wednesday, March 6 and at a Shuksan Middle School community and family night on March 7. The events were organized by community partner Whatcom Family Community Network (WFCN) with major funding from PeaceHealth. Before the music began, the artists read a statement that included the theme that “healthy food is not a privilege; it’s a right” and showed a video outlining their background leading to a passion for organic gardening and eating.
The following was written by Colton Redfeldt of the Whatcom Family Community Network:
Eco-Hip Hop Artists Highlights Healthy Eating and Food Security in Bellingham
When hip hop artist DJ Cavem came to Bellingham to put on a community performance he had a simple request: make the stage look like the produce section of a grocery store.
So when community members gathered at Options High School on Wednesday, March 6, for a concert, it was no surprise that in addition to enjoying hip hop music, they also got to enjoy eating an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating produce during a hip hop performance might seem like a strange idea, but it fit with the goal of the concert: to encourage people in the community to eat healthy food and care for the environment.
In line with the theme of a grocery store produce section, DJ Cavem and Alkemia handed out produce to members of the audience throughout the performance.
Dj Cavem is the father of a genre of music called eco hip-hop. The genera combines hip-hop music with the message of eating well and caring for the environment. Alkemia, his wife, is a life coach and food activist.
Gillian Spilker, an eighth grader at Whatcom Middle School, attended the event. She got strawberries and an avocado after she was invited on stage.
“I like that DJ Cavem is both a hip hop artist as well as someone trying to tell people that eating healthy is cool,” Spilker said.
DJ Cavem and Alkemia also held two other performances solely for students who attended Shuksan Middle School and their families on Thursday, March 7. At these performances he taught families how to prepare healthy food on a budget.
The performances were hosted by Whatcom Family Community Network. Kristi Slette, the organization’s executive director, said the organization put the event together because it wanted to teach students and families the importance of eating healthy.
“We want teens to fuel their brains and bodies for success — in school and for life,” Slette said. “This means eating as fresh as possible and avoiding high sugar, caffeine and chemical snacks and beverages, that can be linked to future substance use.”
The performances highlight a bigger issue of food security in the area.
According to Christine Michaelis, a registered dietician and nutritionist at Peacehealth St. Joseph Medical Center, around 15 percent of Whatcom County residents are food insecure. This means they don’t have consistent access to food. PeaceHealth was the presenting sponsor for the event.
This issue is especially prevalent in the Birchwood area where Shuksan Middle School is located. Some families in this area lack consistent access to healthy food due to the area’s status as a food desert.
“If we want to set our youth up for success and health, finding ways to increase access to affordable, fresh food is key,” Slette said.
Whatcom Family Community Network is a non-profit in Bellingham focused on building the capacity of communities and organizations in Whatcom County to support youth and families so that they can develop the skills and opportunities they need to lead healthy productive lives. The organization aims to prevent child abuse and neglect, youth substance abuse and violence, and to support school success through community change and capacity building efforts. For more information, contact Whatcom Family Community Network at 360-738-1196.