Sipping on the Southside: Indigenous-Owned smoothie business creates healthy community

Smoothies are a great way to nourish one’s body. They taste delicious and the different ingredients add varied nutritional value to the drink. One ingredient you’ve probably never heard of before is sea moss. Luckily it’s available right here, in PVD.

Eric Mercado is the owner of Southside Smoothie and the creator of their recipes. While he mainly gets ideas for smoothie recipes online, all of them contain sea moss. Sea moss comes as a gel and has numerous health benefits due to its high concentration of minerals. “Sea moss contains 92 minerals,” Mercado explains. “It’s about 80% protein and it’s great for pre-workouts and post-workouts. It’s full of calcium, magnesium, iodine, and a bunch of other minerals that are hardly consumed through other foods.” The smoothies are dairy-free so they’re perfect for vegans and people with lactose intolerance. 

Some may be put off by the idea of drinking sea moss, but the flavor isn’t very strong.“It blends in mostly.” Mercado says. “If you didn’t know that it was in there you probably wouldn’t notice it.” In addition to supplements and organic hygiene products, Southside Smoothie also has sea moss for sale. 

There are a few different ways people can incorporate sea moss into their diets. “They can make their own smoothies using a spoonful per smoothie or they can actually just consume it by the spoonful as well.” Mercado suggests. “They can also make it into a tea by taking the gel and just putting it in hot water with some honey and then just mixing it around like it’s normal tea.” 

Depending on what sort of nutrients people are looking for, there are several different additives infused with the gel that increase its benefits. “Elderberry is a big-time immunity booster with many antioxidants,” Mercado explains. “We also make one that’s infused with spirulina. Spirulina is an algae from the sea as well and it contains a lot of B vitamins and it also detoxes heavy metals.” 

A big part of owning a business like this is helping customers learn more about their health and how it can be improved. In this way, Southside Smoothie also offers a valuable service to the community at large. Back in July, the store’s grand reopening was not only a huge success but also a way for people to show their support for the shop. “We had a great turnout, sold over a hundred smoothies that day and other products. It was blessed to see the community coming together for something that is important … not just because it’s an Indigenous-owned business but because of what the business is and the fact that we are … continuing to create businesses that help the community. That will change the community in a positive way.”

Southside Smoothie also supports its community by hosting several weekly events including Hip Hop Chess Club on Mondays, Money Talk Tuesday and Freestyle Friday. The Hip Hop Chess club was actually founded by Mercado himself. “What we do is we teach chess, we play chess, we learn how to play chess and we do it in a hip-hop environment where we play instrumental hip-hop music in the background,” Mercado explains. “Chess is something that has no age limit and anyone can be a good chess player at any age. It’s a great way to bring us together and be able to see eye to eye.”

While Hip Hop Chess brings people together, Freestyle Friday is about self-expression. “It’s kind of like a spiritual exercise as well as a skillful exercise because a lot of people want to be heard,” Mercado says. “When you’re talking and someone’s listening you feel better because you’ve gotten something off your chest. So we feel like we’ve invited people to come get things off their chests in an environment where nobody is being judged. We’re not worried about who’s better than who and things like that. We’re all just encouraging each other to express ourselves.”

Whether it’s to stop by for a smoothie, listen to some hip hop, or join in on some of the weekly events, Southside Smoothie is a great place to visit.