Salud de Paloma Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Hill Country EVOO purveyor targets Texas Hispanics in quest for healthier fats

Salud de Paloma Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Photo by John Anderson

Salud de Paloma Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Available at the HOPE Farmers Market

Texas extra virgin olive oil companies can barely keep up with demand for their products, so a new local EVOO is especially welcome. Salud de Paloma extra virgin olive oil is cold-pressed and bottled just outside of Austin in Dripping Springs, in collaboration with the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company. Texas olive production has yet to recover from the drought of 2011, so Salud de Paloma is currently using a blend of Texas and California olives. As more Texas olive groves reach maturity, the company will be able to transition back to a greater percentage of Texas-grown olives.

But the four principal investors in Salud de Paloma have much bigger plans in mind than simply selling a locally made extra virgin olive oil. The company was started with a mission to help families eat healthy foods and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems, with a focus on the Latino community. Salud de Paloma is the only minority-owned and Latina-managed olive oil company in Texas, and that manager is Salud Corporation President Rosa Rios Valdez, an outspoken advocate for better health outcomes for Texans.

"If you look at the statistics for the highest rates of obesity in the nation, you see Houston, San Antonio, McAllen – all heavily Hispanic areas," says Valdez. "The rates of diabetes alone in the Latino community are nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites." Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to offer numerous health benefits, such as improving cardiac health, lowering blood pressure, protecting against certain common cancers, and lowering the concentration of "bad" cholesterol. If extra virgin olive oil were to replace the low-quality fats typically used by working-class Hispanics, the results could be dramatic. Valdez and her colleagues have specifically targeted the Latino consumer in their marketing and research, in hopes of influencing long-held culinary habits.

Probably the most noticeable difference between Salud de Paloma and other local EVOOs is the price: Salud de Paloma sells for a mere $7.99 a bottle when bought at the HOPE Farmers Market or San Antonio Food Bank. "We are definitely targeting modest income families and families living in food deserts," says Valdez. "Salud de Paloma is named after my mother, Elena Rios. I lost her to diabetes and complications of diabetes. We are bringing this healthful oil to Texans with her and others like her in mind."

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