Premise: 1 Food is roughly equal to the caloric need of 1 Pop for 1 month and trades for roughly 1 Energy Credit.

From this, is there a real-world way to determine the value of an Energy Credit?

Well, first we'd want a handle on the number of calories that a Food is, on a per-pop basis. Assuming that a Stellaris day is about the same as a Earth day, then one person in one month should eat around 60000 calories. (note that \$ denotes USD)

Then, we can do some research on modern food costs. These have a large internal variance, but I'll take something simple as an example for standardization – a standard McDonald's quarter pounder meal (including medium fry and medium soft drink). This is 1050 calories as it comes if you don't add or subtract anything from the burger and don't get a diet soda. The current price before delivery fee from their delivery company is \$10.31, or roughly \$1 per 100 calories. This means that if a person in our Pop eats 2000 calories per day of food at a price point similar to a McDonald's combo meal, they'd be consuming approximately 600 dollars per month in food.

The McDonald's Combo meal isn't perfect as an example – prices for a lot of fresh foods to be cooked at home are lower, though some are higher. On the low end, a can of shortening is approximately 10500 calories and costs \$5.58 at my major retailer. If I could live on just that for a month, my food costs would be around \$32/month, about 5% of the cost of the McDonald's meals. Fresh organic cauliflower at the same retailer runs \$3.98 for only 70 calories, meaning if I ate only that, my food costs would be \$3411/month or 568% of the cost of eating only McDonalds.

As such, as both an average of various unprepared foods and foodstuffs (I checked more, I'll spare you the math) and as the McDonald's example shows that 1 month's calories is roughly \$600.

Now we have some speculation on how many people are in a Pop, but we can call that number P. So 1 Food is worth 600*P US Dollars and is worth 1 Energy Credit. This number doesn't seem big, but we need to remember that P is speculated to be very large. The 2200 UNE scenario starts with 32 Pops, So based on that and the assumption of a pop being a set number of individuals, I present a chart based on the human race.

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Number of Humans on Earth in 2200Worth of an Energy Credit in US Dollars
8 Billion150 Billion
9 Billion169 Billion
10 Billion188 Billion
11 Billion206 Billion
12 Billion225 Billion
13 Billion244 Billion
``Footnote: One will note that these seem low in comparison with population growth rates over extended history. This is true, but for much of that time human reproductive rate was not necessarily based on desire but based on a combination of resource availability and survival rate - for nearly all species, there are biological mechanisms that push down reproduction rate if resources are lacking and push it up if there are long periods of excess, and social animals tend to mate towards having a small number of offspring survive to maturity. In many areas of the world today where resources are readily available and there is a high likelihood of any given child surviving to maturity, both the desired and the real number of children per woman hovers around or below the replacement rate. As such, the total Earth population is expected to continue upwards for a while (at least until 2050) but eventually reach an equilibrium state. The numbers for that equilibrium vary roughly across the range above, depending on estimates of reproduction rate as well as on yearly death rate. ``

Note that the food consumption and production rates per Pop don't change, so this only really works for humans. A small race might have many billions of individuals per pop, while a larger race may have many fewer. What stays the same is Food consumption, but also production values – miner pops of any species produce the same base amount of minerals and consume the same amount of food. Metallurgist pops convert the same base amount of minerals into alloys, and those alloys build ships of similar sizes and combat capabilities. A battleship made by a sapient mouse is the same size and combat power as one made by sapient elephants, even if it may have taken a great many more individual mice to make the alloys for that ship.