As it’s World Vegan Day on November 1st, it seemed only fitting that Novembers ‘Meet the Producer’ feature was on From Nature UK, aka Martine, maker and supplier of the best vegan pasties in Taunton (in my humble opinion).
Most of my previous producers have been holding stalls at Taunton Farmers Market for years, in fact Wallaces Farm and Charlton Orchards have been there since the very beginning…but our lovely Martine has only been trading for about 18 months. Martine was welcomed quickly to the market and her business has been able to evolve over time with a great deal of influence from her customers. This is one of many great reasons to shop at a market, from my experience producers love to get feedback from the customers and who knows, you may even influence product development!
As a single mum of 2 teenage children, Martine started From Nature UK with products she had made from foraged herbs and fruits. This is something that Martine has felt passionately about since being taught to forage by her mum. (I must admit it’s something which fascinates me but I’m convinced I’d kill myself with mushrooms…) Offering products such as handmade herbal teabags and fruit leathers, From Nature UK has adapted and evolved in line with customer demand, and now provides a range of vegan products from cheese, burgers and sausages, to vegan pasta and pesto.
As you will find from many of the producers at Taunton Farmers Market, Martine likes to make use of the other producers, for example when in season, beets and parsnips from producers such as Linscombe Farm and Rays Veg are made into vegetable crisps and sold as a delicious snack bag from From Nature UK.
I bet you can’t guess what that is…
It’s vegan cheese! I KNOW RIGHT? I was super skeptical too, I’m very definitely not a vegan and I had certainly never tried vegan cheese before. I thought it was going to taste like a cross between tofu and…well nothing but it was surprisingly really tasty, I tasted it when it was still in it’s liquid state because Martine was making it whilst I was there but it was good. Not cheesey like a cheddar but very savoury, I’m going to try some of the finished product and I will come back to you and let you know what it was like. And in fact on that note, something which Martine and I chatted about was this mindset of many people, myself included, that as soon as something is labelled as ‘vegan’ it’s considered almost taboo to those who are meat eaters…actually this really isn’t the case. Of course, if you would prefer something meaty as a lunchtime treat then there is plenty on offer to satisfy that, but why do we just walk past the vegan stand and assume it’s not for us? It doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless, in fact quite the opposite-with a huge variety of herbs and spices available these days you may be surprised at how delicious it it. Martine’s current pasties include a jamaican style pasty, with a blend of jamaican spices, and also a smokey bonfire pasty full of butternut squash and smoked paprika. We threw a few ideas up in the air for a Christmas pasty so that’s one to look out for.
It was a real joy to meet with Martine today and have a look about at From Nature UK HQ, and I feel perhaps I shan’t be so ignorant when it comes to trying something new in the form of vegan offerings!