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2013: Top food stories

Updated 7:31 PM ET, Thu December 26, 2013
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2013 was a big year for food news, and perhaps no story was more furiously followed than that of celebrity chef Paula Deen. In the wake of revelations that Deen had used racially-charged language toward her staff, sponsors broke ties with the Southern author, TV host and restaurateur -- and she fell apart on live TV. Fervent fans have vowed to stay with her through thick and thin. Jason Merritt/Getty Images
2013 saw the biggest increase ever in cases of foodborne illness -- including a salmonella outbreak during the governmental shutdown. That bacteria alone causes an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year in the US, and the USDA announced in December that it hopes to address the issue with the help of a new "Salmonella Action Plan." Jupiterimages
Controversy erupted last summer with Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy's remarks about being against gay marriage, "guilty as charged." In January of 2013, the company announced that it was no longer funding "the most divisive anti-LGBT groups," leading members of the community to struggle with the issue of spending their money at a restaurant that had until recently campaigned against them AFP/Getty Images
Few stories ignited the passions of our readers -- not to mention social media networks -- quite as much of issues around restaurant service, tipping, the role of a customer in getting good treatment, and did we mention TIPPING? We handed the mic to a few waiters, chefs, bloggers and even a psychologist to break down the barriers and figure out how we can all get along at the table. Thomas Northcut
It's all still a little hazy as we figure out the etiquette of using smokeless electronic cigarettes in public spaces, but that didn't stop our readers from getting all fired up on both sides of the vapor divide. THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images
And when they weren't vaping away on their e-cigarettes, our readers simply couldn't stop arguing over burgers: Where the best ones can be found, what constitutes a "traditional" cheeseburger and why it's just wicked creepy to find a practically petrified one in your pocket -- from 14 years ago. Getty Images
And sometimes, the burger isn't quite perfect -- actually "broken" in the eyes of a girl with autism. The story of a waitress' kindness toward an upset young customer touched the hearts of people across the internet, and sparked a discussion about how kids all over the spectrum are treated in restaurants. Jupiterimages
A U.N. report on food security had people around the world bugging out in light of the organization's advice that we all add insects to our diet. In May 2013, the group's etnomophagy experts shared compelling evidence suggesting that increased intake of insects would promote health, wealth and a cleaner environment for both rural and urban communities around the globe. Lorena Cofradía/Cortesía
Perhaps all we need to make those insects go down easier is a little splash of hot sauce -- but perhaps not Sriracha for now. The producer of the popular condiment was ordered by a judge in Los Angeles County to suspend operations at a plant in the city of Irwindale that local residents claim has caused an overpowering odor. Panic, shockingly enough, ensued as fans of the brand began to hoard bottles of their beloved "rooster sauce." Sarah LeTrent/CNN
In November, the food world said a sad, sudden farewell to one of its most vital and influential forces, Charlie Trotter, who passed away from a stroke at the age of 54. The chef's namesake restaurant in Chicago's Lincoln Park received a long list of culinary honors over its 25 years of service, and trained many of the most prominent people working in the food world today. Trotter was also well known for his philanthropy and was chosen as "Humanitarian of the Year" by the James Beard Foundation in 2012. Rob Loud/Getty Images