Staff Picks

 Liv Karas and Mickelberry Gardens Elderberry Honey Tonic

Liv Karas and Mickelberry Gardens Elderberry Honey Tonic

The first staff-person to give me their recommendation this month was Liv Karas, who has been working as a Wellness Specialist at the Co-op since mid-January. Her recommendation was the Mickelberry Gardens Elderberry Honey Tonic. Liv says that she highly recommends incorporating this product into your daily routine during cold and flu season to provide your immune system with some support. Her personal practice is to take it in the evening before bed because it soothes her throat after talking all day (and she is still trying to get used to our dry air after recently moving to Moscow from North Carolina). 

Liv says she plans to continue to take a teaspoon a day as we transition through winter into spring, and she’s hoping that it might also provide some allergy support as she adjusts to the new pollens and plants in the area.

Mickelberry Gardens is a small company out of Gresham, Oregon, that produces handmade herbal products inspired by their love for honeybees. Operated by husband and wife team Matt and Madelyn, this company has a number of different tonics, sprays, salves, and balms for sale, as well as raw honey produced by their hives. This venture began as a backyard hobby for them in Portland back in 2007, after their interest in bees was piqued by a class in organic beekeeping. 

Starting with only two hives, they quickly expanded to seven hives and decided to move their operation to a nearby 30-acre organic farm. In short order they had grown to 20 hives. With this surplus of honey and an interest in medicinal plants, it was a natural transition from straight honey sales to the development and sale of healing remedies using raw honey, propolis, beeswax, bee pollen, and medicinal plants. Their unique products are still made in small batches from their commercial kitchen space (Mickelberry Gardens, 2018).

 Taylor Moore and Panda Black Licorice Chews

Taylor Moore and Panda Black Licorice Chews

My second staff recommendation came from Taylor Moore, who has been working as a Cashier at the Co-op since December. Taylor recommends the Panda Black Licorice Chews because she says that as a vegetarian it can be very difficult to find snacks that have that irresistible chewy consistency but do not contain animal-derived gelatin. Taylor also really enjoys the unique flavor of black licorice, and has come to think of this product as one of her prime snack options. 

Panda, a Finnish confectionery company founded in 1920, is best known for its soft licorice products. The company began manufacturing sweets and candies in the upstairs of a berry processing plant in Vaajakoski, Finland, under the name Sok’s candy factory. Their products quickly gained popularity; within a year they added a second manufacturing shift, and they had to move into a new larger manufacturing facility within a handful of years. 

The soft licorice product line was added to their repertoire in 1933, and after over eighty more years of producing this product from the original recipe, it now accounts for 40 percent of the Finnish market share of licorice and is sold in more than 25 other countries. Their licorice is also vegan, kosher, made with natural colors and flavors, and doesn’t contain additives, preservatives, white sugar, or salt.

In the early 1950s artist Bror Zetterborg chose the sympathetic panda for the cover of Panda Pop chocolate bars, and it soon became the cover for all their products, eventually becoming the name for the whole company. Panda was founded on the basic principle of bringing the feeling of pleasure and joy to consumers through the creation of tasty confectionery delights. The company also believes in creating safe products of the highest quality, minimizing the use of raw materials, and treating employees fairly (Panda, 2018). For many of us, Panda provides the nostalgia of a food that has been around since childhood.


Mickelberry Gardens. (2018). Our Story. Retrieved from Mickelberry Gardens:

Panda. (2018). History. Retrieved from Panda: