Crabcake Nation

With its “vortex” situated in the tidal waters of the great Chesapeake Bay—the larg­est estuary on the East Coast—Crabcake Nation was formerly one of the most productive and diverse food-producing ecosystems in the Americas. Its watermen regularly harvested tons of crabs, bay clams, oysters, eels, and other fish from their skipjacks, pung­ies, and bug-eyed boats. Its chefs in crab houses, smokehouses, and oyster bars dowsed these seafoods with sauces conjured up from Old Bay seasonings, horseradish, molas­ses, fish peppers, and mace.

The blue crab for which this nation is named provides sweet, delicious white meat for the signature dish, Maryland crabcakes. While blue crabs are in decline in many places, from Maryland clear down to Florida, they are increasing in other bays, functioning as an effective predator of immature clams and scallops.
The watermen of Tangier Island and other fishing villages have recently taken the lead in community-based conservation efforts, but much remains to be done. Inland, this region is extremely rich in fruit tree varieties, African-derived grains and root crops, and fish. Nevertheless, more than 45 foods of the Crabcake Nation remain at risk.

– excerpted from Renewing America’s Food Traditions, edited by Gary Nabhan, with the permission of Chelsea Green Publishing (

Disappearing Foods

* Amy Apples
* Atlantic Halibut
* Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder
* Blue Crab of Chesapeake Bay
* Flatwoods Plum
* Gulfcoast Highbush Blueberry
* Hayman White Sweet Potato
* Nassau Grouper
* Tennessee Beauty Strawberry
* White Maypop Passionfruit
* See Full List

Tips to preserve heritage and heirloom foods:

* Become a seed saver through the Seed Saver Exchange (
* Purchase heirloom produce and heritage livestock breeds (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,
* If you think a food is endangered, nominate it to the Slow Ark of Taste,
* Support community agriculture, farmers' markets and local food groups.
* Attend events that celebrate local foods.

Read more about Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT).

Disappearing Foods (Full List)
Admiral Wilkes Jujube
American Crocodile
Amy Apples
Anne Arundel Musk Melon
Atlantic Halibut
Atlantic Monkfish
Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder
Aunt Rachael Apples
Beltsville Small White Turkeys
Blue Crab of Chesapeake Bay
Carter's Blue Apples
Cayuga Duck
Chimney Apples
Delaware Chickens
Dominique/Dominicker Chickens
Early Blood Turnip Beet
Fish Pepper
Flatwoods Plum
Gulfcoast Highbush Blueberry
Hayman White Sweet Potato
Hewes Virginia Crab Apples
Hog Island Sheep
Horse Apples
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Killen Persimmon
Landreth Cheese Squash
Long Island Fig
Lucy Duke Pear
Mrs. Bryan Apples
Nanticoke Indian Turban Squash
Nassau Grouper
Ossabaw Island Pigs
Prussian Blue Pea
Rainbow Apples
Redfish/Red Drum Redfish
Shortnose Sturgeon
Stayman Apples
Summer (Fluke) Flounder
Summer Banana Apples
Tait's Norfolk Market Dent Corn
Tennessee Beauty Strawberry
Tunis Sheep
Virginia Greening Apples
Walker's Pippin Apples
Wallace Sweet Apples
Warsaw Grouper
White Maypop Passionfruit
White Rice Popcorn
Winter Flounder
Wood's Early Prolific Squash

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