Responsible Roots

Salud strives for a movement, not just a store.

Salud strives for a movement, not just a store.

By Jennie Tai

Courtesy of Salud, the Healthy Pantry

Let’s get juiced!” cheers the bright-eyed wellness coach, wiggling a foot-long stalk of—of course—organic celery.

It’s the perfect time to hit snooze and sleep-in on this cold Saturday morning, but in Great Falls, a hand full of couples, mothers and health newcomers shuffle into the back room with a common objective: learning ways to enhance their well-being.

Joda Coolidge is just one of the health professionals invited to lead monthly workshops at Salud, The Healthy Pantry.

Customers gather around a table spread of leafy greens and bright fruits to learn how to recreate healthy cocktails at home: almond milk, cucumber apple juice and a mysterious jade-colored shooter called the green goddess.

“I feel like Salud is more of an experience,” explains owner Denise Rodriguez. “If somebody wants a really delicious meal, they can still come here,” but there’s also more.

Promoting healthy choices with products and workshops, Salud is unique to the Great Falls community and mirrors a similar concept to that of wine bars—offering the best of heavily researched products, and featuring monthly educational classes (or tastings) to showcase them.

Still working as a real estate agent, Rodriguez, 41, is determined to enlighten the Northern Virginia community with a simplified bunker of organic products, local produce and prepared sandwiches and salads, from Nourish Market in McLean.

“We’re kind of like the 7-11 of Whole Foods,” Rodriguez laughs.

Inspired by her own decisions to live healthier, Rodriguez hopes to show others how simple and rewarding the transformation can be.

After losing her father and aunt to cancer, Rodriguez turned to juicing as to improve her health and happiness.

Her juicing enthusiasm led to a partnership with Bethesda’s Puree Artisan Juice Bar, where customers can pre-order juices online for pick-up at the store.

But Salud isn’t just about juicing. Rodriguez also hopes to recreate the same feel of community she remembers from her father’s store.

“My dad had an old neighborhood market when I was growing up,” Rodriguez remembers, “and I’d always wanted a little market like that. I’m trying to revive that.”

After her father died, Rodriguez felt it was time to follow her dream of opening a market that would bring her community together, just like her father’s did in Brooklyn.

When she saw a space open on the same strip where her cousins Nolkis and Eli Roman (from her mom’s side) own the clothing botique Havana Vintage, she knew it was the right time.

And Rodriguez is already looking to expand, proving this is much more than one-stop shopping.

After opening only seven months ago, she’s already looking at multiple ways to expand: building-out her current space; planting an herb and vegetable garden behind the building to sell the produce at Salud; bringing vendors in for a Monday night farmers market (with hopes of starting it this summer and continuing year-round); and opening a second location.

Her wish list includes a food truck and a wine club. And good health.

Salud, The Health Pantry
1137 Walker Rd., Greatfalls 


Salud Interlude

Salud owner Denise Rodriguez picks products from her shop to help you jump start an instantly healthier lifestyle.


Chia Seeds

Chad Zuber /

“Chia seeds is a super food that you can sprinkle into your yogurt or cereal to add fiber to your diet.”
10 packs of Chia Seeds, $8.19, Chia Company

Kombucha Tea
“It’s a functional drink that’s amazing for great digestion.”
16 oz. bottle, $4, MTO Kombucha

Cold Press Green Juice

Africa Studios /

“Juicing is the number one way to get your body back healthy.”
16 oz. bottle, $9, Puree

Raw Coconut Water|
“In times of war, hospitals used coconut water for blood transfusions. Coconut water is a powerhouse drink full of electrolytes, minerals, B-complex, enzymes and potassium.”
16 oz. bottle, $6.59, Harmless Harvest


Appetite for Deconstruction
Dining with notations. 

The widely mocked seed (ugh! those commercials) is back. Chia seeds are no longer decorative, even though that troll head was pretty cute. Instead, chia earns nods for its health benefits. Where to buy….

“It” Item
Both coasts (The New York Times and Los Angeles Times) claim chia as the seed of the moment.

Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens includes chia seeds in his morning shake.

Hold the Cream and Sugar
Wall Street’s new “stimulant of choice,” according to a Bloomberg Businessweek story: chia, for its protein, fiber, and omega-3s.

Kawia Scharle /


(February 2013)