Moving into halls, feeding the revolution & food on Mars

Nice Pear: a weekly(ish) feminist foodletter | Issue #009 | 13 September 2020


My youngest sister left home to move into university halls this weekend. My parents are now, for the first time in 30 years, living alone (together). Obviously I’m not a parent, but the eleven-year age-gap made me a minor part of the parenting team when she was growing up.

Yes, I’m excited for this new stage of her life, but with the pandemic, I’m also even more worried about her than I would have been in the Before Times.

So, I only have a short - and not very foodie - essay for you this week. In a somewhat self-indulgent move, I’ve written some advice for her, and for all the other teens navigating the semi-adulthood of the student experience, in the middle of this. Hopefully, it will make its way into the inboxes of others moving out of home and onto university campuses in 2020.

If you’re new to this newsletter, you can read my mission & ethos here & then forward it to all of your pals.

Photo by Caterina Begliorgio on Unsplash

Advice for students moving into halls in 2020

  1. Stay safe

    This might have come in at number two if that pesky virus wasn’t such a threat right now. Do all the regular things that people do to keep themselves safe, of course, but also be mindful of the pandemic. Stay 1-2 m apart from people outside your household. Wash your hands and carry sanitiser. Wear a mask. You know the drill.

  2. Have fun

    Stay within COVID-safe restrictions but, also have fun. This is a time to be carefree. To try new things and talk to new people.

    Take every opportunity that comes up, and throw your whole self into this experience.

    Don’t feel pressured to visit home too often (but know that it’s totally normal to go see your folks sometimes).

  3. Look after yourself

    Stay hydrated. Eat your vegetables. Go outside every day. Try to keep a proper sleep schedule. Learn to budget. And for goodness’ sake, make sure you actually attend your lectures - even if you’re not sure you feel like it today.

  4. Remember there is no right way to do this

    The student experience isn’t universal. I dropped out of my course the first time I went to university, but I got a first when I did eventually go back. I never moved into student halls but still made lifelong friends (I even married one of them). I moved out of home, but not far from my hometown, so I was able to visit as often as I wanted.

    This isn’t forever. Assuming you’re 18, three years is one-sixth of your whole life right now, but I promise it will go by in the blink of an eye.

    Equally though, if you really hate this experience, know that you don’t have to stick with it. You can leave and take the time to figure out what you really want to do. I won’t pretend that people won’t judge you harshly for it (because some people absolutely will) but this is your own life and you get to decide what to do.

    You have all the time in the world. You don’t have to get it right, right now.

  5. Never let yourself get down the last roll of toilet paper before you go out to buy a new pack

    Just don’t risk it mate, it’s not worth it 🧻

PS. If you enjoy Nice Pear & want to support it (or any of the other content I create online) you can always become a paying subscriber or buy me a virtual coffee.


Things to read this week

  • The UK’s hospitality sector is already suffering after the announcement of a clampdown on group gatherings, and businesses across the industry look set to suffer massive falls in profits over Christmas and New Years. 

    This will undoubtedly lead to closures and job losses unless the government steps in with support for businesses that traditionally rely on in-person gathering. Not only bars, restaurants and hotels, but live events like theatre, music and comedy, and spectator sports, as well as brick-and-mortar retailers. 

  • In unsurprising-but-still-shitty news, The Counter reports that "longstanding racial divides on food security have grown even starker during the pandemic". This is based on research in the American Midwest, I'm certain it’s true here in the UK, too.

    In not-unrelated news, the New York Times uncovers how today’s chefs are feeding the revolution: “Food has always been central to resistance because its lack is the most fundamental of inequities. What kind of society lets its own people starve, whether by negligence or knowing exploitation?

  • We all know that single-use packaging is a big problem, particularly in convenience food, but it is now the most commonly found beach trash. I had thought that a small good thing to come from the pandemic is that staying home meant fewer people rely on the convenience food that produces most of our single-use plastic. Maybe not.

  • Eaters’ special content series on the future of restaurants gives us 5 really interesting pieces of writing (I've seen it called speculative journalism) on what America's restaurant industry might soon look like. Pour a large cup of your favourite beverage and settle in for a long read.

  • Looks like we're getting close to growing food on Mars 🪐 I mean, we have a lot of shit we probably need to sort out on our own planet before we start colonising Mars but then again, I do see the appeal of just putting this whole planet in the bin and starting again

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Things to eat this week

  • I ran out of plant milk this morning after just one cup of tea and am finally giving homemade oat milk a go: soak 4 parts water to 1 part oats for half an hour or so, drain. Put the soaked oats in the blender with another 4 parts water. Blend. And blend. And keep blending for 2-3 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth to remove any lingering grit. Finally have that second cuppa.

  • My husband made a vegan version of this asparagus pasta dish this week (substituting the butter for vegan spread, omitting the sausage altogether and adding some of the fresh mint we've been growing on our balcony.

  • Make coronation chickpea sandwiches for your last-of-the-summer picnics.

Where to find me this week

As always, you can find me @ZoePickburn on Twiter, Insta, TikTok and other social media.



Freelance writer & journo | Food blogger & newsletterer (she/her)

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