I hate toggles for every detail. Probably Larian does too. It's like game devs saying "we dont know how the game should play, you figure it out". They should just incorporate everything into difficulty settings. And then lock the settings so that when you run out of food on Hard you're not tempted to switch to Normal to Long Rest whenever you want.
As for the food mechanic specifically, it's not meaningful resource management. There's so much food available you don't have to manage anything, just take all. You're not limited by weight because you can send it to camp, and teleport there with the press of a button. It's just a tedious mini-game before resting. And if you were limited by weight, it would just get annoying because it would only make selling loot more tedious and make you do more trips to traders. I don't understand why they created the food mechanic in the first place, it can never be good resource management.
There are better ways to restrict the frequency of Long Rest which is really the goal here.
Optimally, the developers balance the game around 2-3 collection of difficulty options, which they then publish as the official "Story - Easy - Normal - Core - Tactician " difficulty modes. But then there's little reason to prevent players from changing individual difficulty option within those modes, with the caveat that "the game is not balanced for this combination of options - gameplay experience may vary". At the very least, allowing this is friendly to those with disabilities who have may have trouble with one or two specific mechanics, but don't want to change the entire difficulty mode. Locked difficulty settings should only be relevant for achievements and/or permadeath modes.
And yes, food in its current implementation is worse than useless - it's tedious to actually use. But the base system is already there, and there are ways to significantly improve it.
- Drastically limiting the amount of food turns it into actual resource management, but does risk soft-locking the game.
- Food types having different small buffs for the next day - +1 to Con STs, +1 to Persuasion checks, +2 temp HP - makes food more tactical.
- Put merchants in your base camp who you can sell items to directly from your storage box -> freeing up your inventory for food-weight. (Or get rid of trash loot so you don't need
to make ten thousand vendor trading runs)
But yes I agree that other options (e.g., camping sites or companion disapproval) are better, or even combination of food + other options.