These crustaceans might fetch top dollar at the fishmonger now, but they were once simply an essential part in keeping Chesapeake Bay Native Americans, European colonists and African American people nourished. This wasn't always common knowledge: Until recently, it was widely believed that crabs played a minimal role in the early diet of these groups. However, recent archaeological studies have revealed exponentially more shells than had previously been found at sites in the region—the ravages of time had simply made the shell remains difficult to identify. Though the scientists behind the study note that access may not have been completely consistent, evidence shows that crab can confidently claw its way into the pantheon of truly essential American foods.
Learn how to identify and buy crabs.