Food

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Food is the basic source of nutrition to both humans and animals. Consuming food provides saturation. Deprivation of food leads to malnutrition and, if prolonged, death.

Summary

Food is measured in units of nutrition. Most raw foods, as well as certain cooked foods like pemmican, give 0.05 nutrition per unit. Prepared meals, such as simple meals or lavish meals, generally give 0.9 or 1.0 nutrition.

Baseline adult humans require 1.6 nutrition per day to avoid being hungry. They can "store" 1.0 nutrition at any one time. As they start to eat while they are "hungry" (0.25 saturation), certain types of meals are subject to overeating. A rough baseline of 2 meals per day, or 32 units of pemmican/raw food, is required to feed a person.

By default, colonists will eat the tastiest valid food; from Lavish to Raw. Certain traits or ideology preceptsContent added by the Ideology DLC may change their priorities. You can control what foods colonists are able to eat in the Assign tab. You can also select a colonist's or prisoner's food policy in the Health tab.

Raw food

Food found in its natural stage is raw. Most raw foods will give the −7 Ate Raw Food moodlet to an ordinary colonist. All raw food comes with an innate chance of food poisoning. Milk, berries, and insect jelly can be eaten without mood penalty, but can still give food poisoning.

You can cook food into meals at an electric stove, fueled stove or campfire, or process it at a nutrient paste dispenser. In addition to tasting better, cooked food allows you to get more nutrition off the same amount of raw food. For example, a simple meal costs 0.5 nutrition to make, but gives 0.9 nutrition when eaten - this equates to 180% more food. Food poisoning of a prepared meal is based off of Cooking skill and cleanliness of the room. Nutrient paste can never cause food poisoning.

Raw food can be obtained from a variety of sources:

Degradation

As of version 0.15.1279 (29 August 2016) there is a message telling you when food has spoiled.

Food will be destroyed if left unattended by two entirely separate factors: exposure and temperature.

  • Items dropped in an area without a roof will deteriorate over time, and lose item HP.
  • Storing food in temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F) will spoil over time. Temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F) will slow down spoiling by a factor of 1/temp in Celsius. See Temperature for details.
    • In the early game, food spoilage can pose a threat if located on warm biomes. A freezer room can be created by placing enough coolers in proportion to its size - the bigger the storage, the more coolers required.

For example: a raider is killed and drops a fine meal outdoors, while temperature is below freezing. The meal will not spoil, but it will still deteriorate, and lose HP. Conversely, a meal stored indoors at room temperature will spoil rather than deteriorating.

Once spoiled, food will vanish and can never be recovered. However, food can be eaten at any stage before spoiling with no negative effect. Food poisoning comes from other sources, such as a messy kitchen, an unskilled cook, or eating raw food.

Analysis

As a rough rule of thumb - 25 tiles of rice / potatoes / corn, in ordinary soil, is enough to feed a single colonist in Losing is Fun indefinitely, when:

  1. They are cooked into and eaten as simple meals.
  2. A grower's Plants skill is competent; 6 Plants is enough.
  3. Crops are harvested reasonably quickly. 25 tiles gives a little extra food in case of emergency, but assumes that Growing is priority #1 in the Work tab.
  4. Your colony has a year-round growing season.

20 tiles of rice/corn in rich soil (not potatoes) is also enough to feed a colonist, in the same conditions, with some food in reserve. A higher difficulty reduces plant yield; if playing in difficulties lower than Losing is Fun, then you technically need less crop to survive. If your biome doesn't have a winter, then just plant your tiles of rice, and you don't really have to worry about managing food unless toxic fallout happens.

Food crop comparison

Of the three "main" food crops:

  • Rice Rice grows quickly, but gives the least per harvest. Rice is stable; since each individual rice harvest is small, a blight will not impact a rice harvest as much as it does with other crops. However, because it needs to be harvested more often, you will need more work for the same amount of food. Due to its grow speed, it is a great food to plant at the beginning of the game, or as a "last harvest" when winter is fast approaching.
  • Corn Corn is the opposite of rice. It grows slowly, but gives the most per harvest. It needs to be harvested much less frequently, meaning corn takes much less work than rice. However, your corn harvest will be impacted more by disasters like blight and fire. Corn cannot be grown in hydroponics.
  • Potatoes Potatoes are in the middle in terms of speed, harvest size, and work. Potatoes are notable for their low Fertility Sensitivity, meaning the quality of soil impacts them much less. They are great if you are forced to plant in stony soil or gravel, but bad to grow in rich soil or hydroponics.

Rice, corn, and potatoes give roughly the same amount of food per day per plant, assuming regular soil is used. Rice is ever so slightly higher than the other 2 crops.

Of the other available crops:

  • Berries Strawberry plants give less food per day than any of the three food crops. It grows faster than potatoes, but slower than rice. Its niche is that strawberries can be eaten raw without a mood penalty, but this is rarely useful given that cooking food into meals will net you more effective food.
  • Hay Hay is inedible to humans, but gives the most food per day of all plants. Slightly less work efficient per than corn. Hay can also be used for straw matting.
  • Raw fungus NutrifungusContent added by the Ideology DLC is almost identical to potatoes; it grows slightly slower in regular soil, but has even less Fertility Sensitivity (slightly better in rough soil). Nutrifungus' benefit is that it has to be grown in complete darkness. This means that you can grow crops indoors, even during the winter, without having to use a power hungry sun lamp. As another benefit, nutrifungus is completely immune to blight. However, most ideoligions give −3 for Ate Cooked Fungus. Tunnelers enjoy eating fungus and despise any other plant. Tunnelers can construct fungal gravel to create fertile soil under their mountains.
  • Toxipotato ToxipotatoesContent added by the Biotech DLC have no fertility sensitivity at all, and are the only food source that can be planted in polluted terrain. They provide strictly inferior food per work and per day to the standard potato, but do reach full growth between one and three days quicker depending on the terrain.[Early harvest?] They have double the chance to cause food poisoning when eaten raw.

Comparison table

  •  NameNutritionTasteDeterioration
    rate (per day)
    Days to Rot
    Carnivore lavish meal a.pngCarnivore lavish meal1Lavish104
    Lavish meal a.pngLavish meal1Lavish104
    Vegetarian lavish meal a.pngVegetarian lavish meal1Lavish104
    Nutrient paste meal a.pngNutrient paste meal0.9Awful100.75
    Simple meal a.pngSimple meal0.9Simple104
    Carnivore fine meal a.pngCarnivore fine meal0.9Fine104
    Vegetarian fine meal a.pngVegetarian fine meal0.9Fine104
    Packaged survival meal a.pngPackaged survival meal0.9Simple0.25
    Fine meal a.pngFine meal0.9Fine104
    Egg small a.pngOstrich egg (fert.)0.6Raw215
    Egg small a.pngGoose egg (unfert.)0.5Raw215
    Egg small a.pngEmu egg (fert.)0.5Raw215
    Egg small a.pngGoose egg (fert.)0.5Raw215
    Egg small a.pngTurkey egg (fert.)0.5Raw215
    Egg small a.pngCassowary egg (fert.)0.5Raw215
    Egg oval a.pngCobra egg (fert.)0.25Raw215
    Egg small a.pngChicken egg (unfert.)0.25Raw215
    Egg small a.pngChicken egg (fert.)0.25Raw215
    Egg round a.pngTortoise egg (fert.)0.25Raw215
    Egg small a.pngDuck egg (unfert.)0.25Raw1015
    Egg small a.pngDuck egg (fert.)0.25Raw215
    Egg oval a.pngIguana egg (fert.)0.25Raw215
    HemogenPack a.pngHemogen pack0.15
    Chocolate b.pngChocolate0.1Fine8
    Raw fungus.pngRaw fungus0.05Raw40
    Berries.pngBerries0.05Simple614
    Potatoes.pngPotatoes0.05Raw630
    Hay a.pngHay0.05660
    Milk.pngMilk0.05Raw1014
    Agave fruit.pngAgave fruit0.05Raw625
    BabyFood c.pngBaby food0.05Terrible14
    Insect jelly b.pngInsect jelly0.05Fine6
    Corn.pngCorn0.05Raw660
    Meat insect c.pngInsect meat0.05Raw62
    Kibble.pngKibble0.05Raw6
    Pemmican c.pngPemmican0.05Simple270
    Meat human b.pngHuman meat0.05Raw62
    Rice.pngRice0.05Raw640
    Meat big a.pngMeat0.05Raw62
    Toxipotato.pngToxipotatoes0.05Raw660
  • Version history

    • 0.8.657 - Now spoils without refrigeration
    • 0.9.722 - Food poisoning added. Bad cooks are more likely to accidentally poison meals.