It took quite some doing, and turning of ideas over and over in the hamster wheel of my mind, but I have made a major advancement: the player can now EAT FOOD. Yes, I know--it's utterly astounding that one should be able to do this. At least, that's the impression that I get from how difficult it was to code the whole thing.
But more importantly, this paves the way for all the other Items to have uses. So today wasn't such a bad day, after all :)