Well, it looks like I've bid a fond F-You to Ultima III as well, for more or less the same problem. Watch the food meter spin down. Go grind for gold against non-existent monsters, buy more food. Seriously, monsters are so scare that I'm wondering why this land needs heroes. All I could do was wonder around and watch that food meter drop. Is every character secretly a damn hobbit? Is that why THEY NEVER STOP EATING?!!
That wasn't even what finally broke me. I kept trying to steal chests from a store. I'd be able to get one or two, then exit the town to save the game. Losing food all the way, of course. The final straw was when I got caught, and ended up in a fight with guards. Instead of just closing the game and reopening like I had been doing, I played the fight just to see. After my first character died, I closed it. When I opened the game again, there my party was outside the town...WITH ALL THE DAMAGE FROM THAT FIGHT. Yep, that guy was dead. It saved my damage from the middle of a fight, and applied it to a previous save game. Uninstall was immediate.
Please tell me when these games start getting good again.
In the DOS version of Ultima 3, the solution to food issues is to go into a dungeon early on; food drops significantly slower, and the enemies on the 1sf floor are still weak. Plus, Perennian Depths (often the first dungeon a new player will find) has a healing fountain.
Another strategy is to go to Yew and kill the townspeople there. Everyone will drop a chest when slain, and there are no guards. When done, just leave town and re-enter, and the townspeople you killed will be back. (Note that this is not a good idea in later Ultima games; there's Virtue/Karma issues starting in Ultima 4, and in Ultima 6 townspeople stay dead and often don't leave treasure.
Also, characters will stop eating at 0 food, and will instead take something like 5 damage every 10 overworld steps (or 40 town/dungeon steps); this damage is slow enough that you can stay alive by using healing magic. It's not like Ultima 1/2 where running out of food would be instant death.
The autosave on character death is annoying to many players (to the point where the Upgrade patch has an option to disable it), but it's also exploitable; for example, you can reliably get a ship that way. (One common complaint, perhaps related to the lack of overworld enemies, is that ships are rare; this exploit lets you get around that issue, at the expense of a party member's life.)
Many players find that Ultima 4 is when the series gets good, though it's not without its annoyances. (My main complaint with Ultima 4 is the need to use reagents to cast even the simplest of spells.)