But Americans did learn plenty about their hamburgers. In March, the Internet exploded with worry over so-called pink slime, or what the meat industry prefers to call lean finely textured beef. Though it had been part of the food chain for years, by the end of the kerfuffle the product had all but disappeared.
Filling your grocery cart was — and will continue to be — costly. This summer's massive drought in the U.S. devastated famers and drove up global food prices. And the hardship isn't over. Analysts say we can expect food prices here to go up by as much as 4 percent in 2013.
Food safety also was a headline grabber. For the first time ever, the Food and Drug Administration used newly granted authority to shutter a company without a court hearing. In November, the government shut down Sunland Inc., the country's largest organic peanut butter processor, after repeated food safety violations.
Meanwhile, the nation's kids seem to be sick of being told to eat healthier. Nutritionists praised the most significant overhaul of federal school lunch standards in years, but the kids in the lunch lines were less impressed; schools reported more food landing uneaten in the trash.
But the kids won't get much sympathy in New York City, where a first-in-the-nation ban on eateries selling sodas larger than 16 ounces means slurping a monster gulper is going to require double fisting.
At times this year it felt like the food world belonged to the geeks, and the rest of us just eat in it. Nathan Myhrvold's science chic approach to cooking continued to woo foodies, and even the more populist folks at Cook's Illustrated magazine got in on the act with a new cookbook, "The Science of Good Cooking."
Now let's talk trends. Kale was the unlikely darling of 2011, but it started to lose its luster this year. Beets are making a bid for top slot, and would actually stand a chance if they didn't stain your fingers so much. Americans fell in love with dark meat, finally realizing what chefs have known all along — chicken breasts are the tofu of the meat world. Dark meat actually has flavor.
Craft beer remains a growing market, but hipster drinkers know it's the hard stuff that's happening. Barrel aged cocktails and micro distilleries are raging hot. Chia seeds also are trying to be hip, and though they've wormed their way into numerous bottled drinks, they will forever suffer from the Ch-ch-ch-chia! effect. If you want to seem impossibly hip, saute or bake something with coconut oil. But don't be caught dead sipping coconut water. That's so 2011.
By the way, we get it! Any food served out of a truck or from a restaurant that "pops up" is outrageously better than any other food. And eating it makes you impossibly cool. Now can we please move on to another food world flavor of the week?
And would somebody please, for the love of all that is good, please kill off the cake pop phenomenon?