Food is the primary factor fueling population growth in a city: without Food, there is no growth. Food is produced individually by each city in various ways, the chief among which is the land around the city: thus, food potential availability should be the first concern when planning where to settle new cities.
Each Citizen in a city consumes 2 Food per turn. If the city produces more food than its citizens currently consume, it has a food surplus, and its population will eventually increase by 1. If the city has a food deficit, its population will eventually decrease by 1. If the situation is balanced, there will be neither growth, nor decline.
Note that population growth is further affected by other factors. For more precise information, head here.
- Floodplains: +3 Food ( variable Food yield, according to how ensuing floods have affected them)
- Marsh: +1 Food
- Oasis: +3 Food
- Rainforest: +1 Food
Since all of these are available right from the start of the game and without any research, locating them and strategically placing your cities in range of them will determine how fast (or how slowly) they will grow in the early to middle game. You should scout your surroundings well!
Many resources also contribute Food when worked. These include:
- Bananas: +1 Food
- Cattle: +1 Food
- Fish: +1 Food
- Rice: +1 Food
- Sheep: +1 Food
- Wheat: +1 Food
- Horses: +1 Food
- Niter: +1 Food
- Citrus: +2 Food
- Spices: +2 Food
- Sugar: +2 Food
- Wine: +1 Food
Fish, Rice and Wheat also provide additional Food yield with their respective tile improvements. Rice and Wheat provide additional Food yields with a Water Mill (whether or not they have been improved).
The Farm is a basic tile improvement specifically dedicated to Food production, and besides it is available from the start of the game without research. It adds +1 Food; but researching Feudalism and later Replaceable Parts activates adjacency bonuses with other Farms which may cause a single Farm to produce a whopping +7 Food!
Other Improvements also grant bonus Food yields; they can only be built on certain Resources, however. These tile improvements are as follows:
- Plantation: +1 Food with Scientific Theory
- Pasture: +1 Food with Exploration
- Fishing Boats: +1 Food; +1 Food with Plastics
- Seastead: +2 Food
Improvements are a major way to boost Food production in all stages of the game. But even more important is the adjacency bonus provided to the Farm by Feudalism and later Replaceable Parts! This has the potential to boost your Population growth immensely, both because of the boost in Food yield, and the increase of the Housing limit in the city. You should study its mechanics well and make use of them whenever possible.
- Liang provides the ability to build Fisheries, an aquatic tile improvement that provides 1 Food and 1 extra Food for every adjacent sea resource.
- Magnus' Surplus Logistics title provides the city he is in with 20% more Food (Growth). Also, your Trade Routes ending here provide +2 Food for their starting city.
There are two religious Pantheons that grant bonus Food from certain improvements. Goddess of the Hunt grants +1 additional Food yield from Camps, and Goddess of Festivals grants +1 additional Food yield from Wine, Incense, Cocoa, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea Plantations.
Unlike other main stats, there is no District directly dedicated to Food, though the City Center has +2 Food as a base yield, and the Neighborhood has a major positive impact on Population growth. However, several buildings from both the City Center and other districts increase Food output. These include:
- Granary: +1 Food (City Center)
- Water Mill: +1 Food (City Center)
- Gurdwara: +2 Food (Holy Site)
- Lighthouse: +1 Food (Harbor); it also increases the base yield of Coastal tiles in the city's territory by +1
- Seaport: +2 Food (Harbor)
- City Center: +1 Food
- Holy Site: +2 Food
- Campus: +1 Food
- Entertainment Complex: +2 Food
- Theater Square: +2 Food
Domestic Trade Routes can be extremely useful for jump-starting a city's population growth if the city isn't in a very fertile area. For these cities they may continue to be critical for city growth later, simply because the city has exhausted the available fertile tiles around.
Likewise, the policy card Arsenal of Democracy provides +2 Food to both cities from Trade Routes to an ally's city. Apart from this, international Trade Routes very rarely grant Food - they serve other purposes.
There are four Wonders that grant bonus Food upon completion:
- Huey Teocalli: +1 Food for each Lake tile in your empire
- Petra: +2 additional Food yield on all Desert tiles in this city
- St. Basil's Cathedral: +1 Food yield on all Tundra tiles in this city
- Temple of Artemis: +4 additional Food
However, multiple natural wonders grant Food bonuses to the civilizations that own them:
- Chocolate Hills: +1 Food
- Eyjafjallajökull: +2 Food yield to adjacent land tiles
- Great Barrier Reef: +3 Food
- Hạ Long Bay: +3 Food
- Mount Kilimanjaro: +2 Food yield to adjacent tiles
- Pantanal: +2 Food
- Ubsunur Hollow: +1 Food
- The unique district of Kongo, the Mbanza, grants +2 Food.
- The unique tile improvement of India, the Stepwell, grants +1 Food, +1 Food if adjacent to a Farm, and +1 Food with Professional Sports.
- The unique tile improvement of Australia, the Outback Station, grants +1 Food, +1 Food for every adjacent Pasture, and +1 Food from every 2 adjacent Outback Stations (after researching Rapid Deployment).
- The unique tile improvement of Indonesia, the Kampung, grants +1 Food for every adjacent Fishing Boats.
- The tile improvement of Liang, the Fishery, grants +1 Food and more Food based on each adjacent Fishing Boat.
- The unique tile improvement of the Cahokia city-state, the Cahokia Mounds, grants Food for adjacent districts.
- The unique tile improvement of the Nazca city-state, the Nazca Line, grants Food for adjacent Desert and Desert Hills tiles.
- The unique tile improvement of Canada, the Ice Hockey Rink, grants 2 Food with Professional Sports.
- The unique tile improvement of the Cree, the Mekewap, grants Food for adjacent Bonus Resources.
- The unique tile improvement of the Netherlands, the Polder, grants 1 Food and more Food for adjacent Polders and additional Food with Replaceable Parts.
- The unique tile improvement of the Inca, the Terrace Farm, grants 1 Food and more Food for adjacent Mountains.
- Nkisi, the civilization ability of the Kongolese, grants them +2 Food for each of their Relics, Artifacts, and Great Works of Sculpture.
- Grand Barays, the civilization ability of the Khmers, grants them +2 Food from Farms adjacent to Aqueducts.
- Mana, the civilization ability of the Māori, grants them +1 Food to every Fishing Boat.
- Mit'a, the civilization ability of the Inca, grants every Mountain +1 Food for every adjacent Terrace Farm.
- Songs of the Jeli, the civilization ability of Mali, grants City Centers +1 Food for every adjacent Desert or Desert (Hills) tile.
- Three Kingdoms, the civilization ability of Korea, grants +1 Food to Farms if they are built next to a Seowon.
- Mediterranean's Bride, the leader ability of Cleopatra, grants other civilizations +2 Food from international Trade Routes to her cities.
- Qhapaq Ñan, the leader ability of Pachacuti, grants +1 Food to Domestic Trade Routes for every Mountain tile in the origin city.
- Favorable Terms, the leader ability of Poundmaker, grants +1 Food to Trade Routes for each Camp or Pasture in the receiving city.