On The Go With DJ Cavem, Founder of EcoHipHop
By Angelia McGowan
Follow 29-year-old Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita around the country as he uses the platform of hip hop to spread the word about healthy eating and you’ll see a man on a mission.
Let’s start at the White House and work our way back to Denver where the self-proclaimed O.G. (organic gardener) has been making an impact in the wellbeing of his community for more than a decade.
On March 23 of this year, a press release from the White House announced the talent line-up, program and activities for the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition in its 137th year and the largest annual public event at the White House. In the line-up was Denver-based talent DJ Cavem.
The release stated, “The Eggcited to Cook Stage features chefs Sunny Anderson, Chris Cosentino, Bobby Flay, Aarón Sánchez, Gail Simmons, and Michael Symon along with DJ Cavem and Alkemia Earth as they prepare delicious recipes showing easy ways to incorporate healthy eating into everyday meals.”
The road to the White House was an eventful one for the founder of EcoHipHop and Going Green Living Bling. Both organizations promote healthy eating, using music as a communications vehicle.
Particularly, in the past year DJ Cavem has been nominated for the 2014 Music Educator Grammy Award, highlighted in Oprah Magazine for his award-winning curriculum, which is an album called “The Produce Section.” He also premiered his first short film, entitled, “From Gangs to Gardens” at the Hollywood Film Festival. Produced by JLove Calderon, the film has received distribution with Fubu TV and SIMA and has been nominated for the Social Impact Media Awards. He recently received recognition from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who proclaimed June 14 as “Keep It Fresh Day,” named after one of DJ Cavem’s educational and cultural programs.
Riding high on all of this love, Vita recently spoke at Tedx Manhattan in New York City. The talk would lead to him meeting Debra Eschmeyer, the executive director of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, celebrating its fifth anniversary. A week later he received an email inviting him to be part of the White House’s Easter activities. “We made the top five most exciting performance of the Easter Egg Roll based on crowd response,” says DJ Cavem, who performed with his wife, business partner and DJ, Alkemia Earth.
They both met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama through a private introduction in the White House, away from the crowd. “It was very surreal. It happened quickly. I do (remember it), but I don’t,” said Earth.
In addition they saw the “whole Power Rangers cast” and “the real” Elmo from Sesame Street, according to DJ Cavem, who was excited by the whole scene of celebrities.
These are great tales to bring back to youth he works with year round in Denver Public Schools, even more so to officials wanting him to help them with gang intervention and to help increase grades through awareness of proper nutrition. Studies have shown that grades go up when students are eating healthy.
DJ Cavem and Earth are preparing for summer camp workshops, expecting to serve 1,200 students, double the participation of last year. He wants the participants to walk away knowing about homeopathic wellness, food-related health and to learn how to grow, sell and prepare food.
Last month in Denver, EcoHipHop kicked off its Hip Hop Green event where they are introducing communities to vegan meals. He has partnered with national vegan chain restaurants to help them market to the urban communities.
“We are feeding communities their first vegan meals. We use hip hop to bring people to the event and then feed them their first vegan meals,” says DJ Cavem, who acknowledges that there can sometimes be resistance from people citing that it’s too expensive to eat healthy or that they do not want to change their family recipes, which integrate lots of meats. He and Earth work to help them understand the positive outcomes of making better food choices.
“We want them to look a little deeper into what they are eating and why,” says Earth.
In the meantime, the duo has been asked to return to Washington, D.C. by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help it launch its farmers market on the National Mall on May 1. Later in the month they’ll be participating at an event in Wheatridge, Colorado for the Vitamin Cottage. As the conversation for this article wraps up, the two are packing bags for a road trip to do a presentation in Colorado Springs before jumping on an airplane to Oakland, California.
Always on the go, there seems to be no end to DJ Cavem’s energy and desire to make a difference.
Editor’s Note: For more information about EcoHipHop visit, www.gofundme.com/ ecohiphop.