Food is used throughout the entire game to produce units, research technology, and build structures. Upon reaching the Industrial Age, Food is less common in building units as players tend to focus more on Oil and Metal to build airplanes and tanks.
Food is only gathered by building Farms and having citizens harvest the resources or building Fishermen from the Dock and sending them out to sea to harvest fish. Some rare resources also add to Food production when they have a Merchant harvesting the resource. A City adds a slow trickle of Food to the coffers at the rate of 10 Food every 30 seconds. A Granary enhances the production of Food by Farms within the city. Granary upgrades also include increasing this enhancement for all Granaries.
When a Farm is built, players are granted a small bonus of 20 Food, in addition to what they harvest. A cap is placed on Farms, and as such, only five Farms may be built per city. Some nations have national powers that grant them bonuses to their Food production.
- Bison: +20
- Citrus: +10
- Fish: +10
- Furs: +10
- Horses: +10
- Spice: +10
- Sugar: +10
- Titanium: +20
- Whales: +10
- Wine: +10
The gather rate of rare resources in friendly (i.e. own and allied) territory can be increased by researching the Taxation line at the Temple (+20%, +50%, +100%, +200%) and by building the Porcelain Tower (+200%).
- The American Power of Innovation: Receive Food for every non-Scout Barracks unit currently not garrisoned.
- The Dutch Power of Commerce: Receive +1 to their Food gather rate for every 20 Food beyond the starting amount (usually 200 for a regular game), up to a total of +50 beyond the Commerce Limit. This also applies to all other basic resources except Knowledge.
- The Egyptian Power of the Nile: Have an increased Commerce Limit for Food (by 10%), start with a Granary, and can build 7 instead of 5 Farms in each city. Their Granary production upgrades are free, and their Farms also increase their Wealth gather rate by 2 for each Farm.
- The German Power of Industry: Cities each receive a 5 Food (as well as 5 Timber and 5 Metal) bonus to the gather rate, and their Farms give a completion bonus of 30 Food instead of 20 Food. The Germans can build Granaries from the start of the game, and the Granary production upgrades are 50% cheaper and available one age earlier.
- The Iroquois Power of Nation: Woodcutters also gather 2 Food each. This is affected by Granary and Granary production upgrades.
- The Japanese Power of Honor: Farms and Fishermen produce +25% Food. Japanese Farms are also 50% cheaper.
- The Lakota Power of the Plains: Does not build Farms for Food. Instead, their Food gather rate is increased by +4 for every non-garrisoned scout, citizen, and cavalry unit. Captured Farms and Granaries are instantly destroyed.
- The Mongol Power of the Horde: Receive a 1 Food bonus to their gather rate for every 1% of the world territory controlled (multiplied by half the number of nations).
- The Persian Power of Ceremony: Start with 50% more Food.
- The Pyramids increases the base gather rate of Food by 20% and the Commerce Limit for Food by +50.
- The Kremlin increases the Commerce Limit for Food by +200.