As one who does advocate 'eating', i would like to quickly explain why, and how.
... on the personal character pov, yes, it probably does turn into a click this button every 20 minutes.
Which can be a pain.
But what if it is on a settlement scale... Our farms produce x amount of food for use by characters at x value for every x turn.
What this means is that food becomes a settlement enhancing or limiting factor. That bad guys can raid our caravans or our settlements and over run them. We can lose settlements, we can lose npc's, and we have the possibility of 'losing everything' if we lose all of our farms. Everything.
Like say, losing all our cruisers in AI War, when we are facing Starships, well... we have nothing to compete, we are moments or hours, away from losing the game.
For AVWW, what that cost may be, is we are back to square one. We lose our empire, we have gambled and lost every npc and settlement we had in the game, we have had our head handed to us and we are now back out in the wild fending for ourselves, trying to stay alive.
Some mechanic, ANY mechanic that makes it interesting to keep my character alive is something i think adds greatly to the game.
So,... i have to nurture my settlements, i have to choose carefully the kinds of settlements that i create and where i put them and how i recruit and who i recruit (is it possible i have recruited a spy?)
Anyway, 'food' fits that role, i have to have it to keep my settlements and my npc's and my characters viable, and functional and useable.
Its not a click this every 20 minutes mechanism, its a click this every once in a while for your character , or your settlements or you are going to die and NOT make it.
That it interesting.
What hoops do I have to jump through to make things worthwhile? What must i do to expand, or defend, or just maintain the status quo?
Food fits a lot of those circumstances.
And fits it very well.
Not in a boring way.
But in a do i 'castle before i move my pawn?' Or do i move my pawn first, and reap the consequences of not preparing beforehand? way.
Action can be quickly paced and intense and filled with on screen slaughter, but the preparing our loadout, building buildings and jobs and skill sets for my npc's, building new settlements and focusing on their specialties and what resources are used and where is all strategic and slower, and thoughtful pondering of the lay of the board, so to speak. Food and what it represents to continuing the survival of characters and settlements fits into that overview very easily i think.
That is my opinion,
I think it could work, and work well and bring some new and interesting twists to how things play out.
Whether or not it will, however, depends on what everyone else thinks.
But a game that gives players 'different ways of playing the same game' make for a wider audience of players, and the game a multiple style kind of game.
Thank you for listening,