One of the recent issues I've discovered of ECO is how unrewarding late game food is for the average player.
While I was working as an Advanced Baker about fourteen days in with people simply not caring about food. People stopped buying foods not of just me but every cook on the server leading to all the cooks being immensely poor. I asked around as to why and the clear response I got was that the majority of players saw no benefit of additional food as they had reached a cap at 7 stars and the ETA till next start would be after the laser was done. Although being the only player with 8 stars before the meteor on this server would be cool, it shows a fundamental problem of food and housing. Unless ECO gives more tangible bonuses than XP gain from food and housing, ECO Infinite servers will eventually have people eating charred tomatoes again with no housing when the time till next star is longer than they expect to play and the cost to achieve that next star is so high.
I firmly believe this is true for all professions but for food in particular. If it is possible to reach a point where the majority of players have no need for 5 cooking specialties and as a result there is no need for 4 farming specialties, and that point can be reached in an average medium collaboration config game by day 14 then there needs to be a fundamental restructuring of how food works.
Food should be similar to the necessities of better tool. Smiths are one of the richest professions and are always are guarenteed business as each and every player has the opportunity to instantly gratify themselves with a purchase of a shiny new pickaxe. When that pickaxe breaks they get a new one with the labor from the pickaxe helping the economy move forward and the smith receiving business as a result. Food is the opposite, you buy food for a long haul and may receive gratification in the form of a star sooner as a result if you stick with it (quite frankly it would be nice if everything had an upkeep or gave a temporary bonus like tools). Ideally food bonuses could up your strength or running speed temporarily or if you eat them consistently for a longer duration.
Alternatively foods could be segmented into calorie types. I.E. There is basic calories used for xp calculations (like present calories are) and then there are tier 1 calories that can be used to make a table go faster and grant faster sprint. Tier 2 (cooking) could grant reductions in bloomery or blast furnace pollution outputs or it could be used in such a way that clothes and tools have improved durability and stats that are hidden (do you buy from the sweat shop or from the craftsman). These are just offerences for solutions. At the end of the day it will be necessary to fix this issue lest every server government account for and accomodate the cooks who will get crushed mid-game with disinterested customers.