Some of the best American Food Treasure oysters come from Drakes Bay Family Farms but their oyster operation is threatened with being shut down. However, they may have won a recent reprieve.

The oyster farm could be eliminated by the 2012 expiration of its lease with National Park Service (NPS) at its Pt. Reyes National Seashore location in the West Marin, CA Gastronomic Region. NPS National Director Jon Jarvis has led the effort to close the farm. However through the farms' constant campaigning and pressure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has just recently stated the farm can continue its lease.

Drakes Estero
Location of Drakes Estero

Drakes Family Farm oysters are raised in the purest water conditions of any oyster farm in the country. This farm also seeds only native species for new oysters and only by hand, further protecting the terroir and Food Treasure connection.

If you are traveling the West Martin Gastronomic Region Tour, drive west out to near the end of Drake's Blvd and sample these oysters shucked fresh before they may become another of the lost American Food Treasures.

West Marin County, CA
Gastronomic Region

West Marin, CA is the newest American Gastronomic Region.
LOCATION: It is located 30 mins. north of San Francisco, and extends from Petaluma to Tomales Bay. LOCAL FOOD: The region produces American Food Treasure oysters, excellent pinot noir and chardonnay wines, top American cheeses, and a range of organic vegetables. TERROIR: Location between the cool Pacific Ocean and foggy San Pablo bay exposes the region to cool weather, and winter precipitation with air-borne salt particles. Soils range from well-drained gravelly loams to moisture-retaining silty clays,

Drakes Estero Wild Asparagus is now available from late May to June for about one month. It is actually wild star thistle, a member of the Lily family, and not true asparagus. Wild asparagus spears are thin, spindly, with a distinctive herbaceous flavor.

"The banquet is in the first bite." Michael Pollan

We invite you to send recipe ideas that uses a Food Treasure to make a great meal. We prefer dishes that allow the food to standt out so our recipes reflect that philosophy.

All recommended foods are done without compensation or solicitation from their sources. All are tested so we can recommend the best known available. If you know better please contact us.

Here's a salad recipe using wild asparagus:
Serves 4
  • 2 C Food Treasure California wild asparagus, cut in 2 inch lengths
  • 1/2 C toasted Food Treasure Missouri eastern black walnuts
  • 1 C Oregon Food Treasure Oregon chocolate cherry tomatoes (see photo above)
  • 1 C small diced: Tumalo Farms Oregon Pondhopper goat cheese (or any semi-soft high butterfat goat cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade Salad dressing. We recommend award winning Savor Arbequina Olive Oil or another delicate arbequinna olive oil and Katz Zinfandel Vinegar or another fruity artisan vinegar.

Boil pot of lightly salted water water. Blanch asparagus in water until tender. Remove from hot water and place in ice bath for a few minutes then drain. Combine asparagus, nuts, cheese, and tomatoes in a bowl, toss w/ dressing.
FOOD Politics

American food culture is now committing to local food sourcing but the next stage to come is the enhancement, promotion, and protection of local terroir flavor and origin identity. Wineries benefit from the branding exclusivity of origin name protection, i.e. American Viticultural Areas (AVA) that generates extra revenue to pay for terroir enhancing cultivation costs. This business model needs to spread to a wide range of food products, starting with American Food Treasures. But it will take some political campaigning.

In Europe, food name protection are applied to many items which increases their value, provides valuable export identity, and entices agro-tourism. In turn these build sustainable rural regions, such as Italy's Tuscany and France's Provence who actively promote their identity as gastronomic regions and prosper from their world renowned exports and agro-tourists. This should be American agriculture's future.



July 4 4pm Americas' indigenous cuisine
Cooking Demo w/ John Farais (see FOOD PEOPLE below), Marin County Fair, San Rafael, CA,

July 15 9am-9pm Wild Plants Workshop
Cooking Demo and Dinner w/ Russ Cohen, Petersham, MA
Drakes Estero

Douglas D. Cain

What's an American Food Treasure? It's a world class food ingredient from this continent that can become the centerpiece of one of the best meals you'll ever eat. It's world class because the food's flavor is so special and unique that it represents the best available world-wide in its class by wide recognition. Examples include the Alaska's black spotted shrimp. Maine's wild blueberries, Michigan's wild morel mushrooms. The uniqueness of the flavor depends on the singularities of the origin's terroir, i.e. the local soil, water, and climate ecosystem.

The key point about finding many food treasures: is that they're often easy to find in season, and frequently are not widely recognized as the best in the world. It like finding precious jewels that few appreciate. Some items, such as the shrimp, appear in the better supermarkets. Mine came from Whole Foods in San Francisco. Some are available by shipping, such as Nantucket Bay scallops.

Some Treasures are only available by going on special food adventures. Many of the best foods are wild and originally discovered by Native Americans and early frontier home cooks who knew the best local wild flavors. Now these Treasures are known only to local foragers, and fishers. To find them go on a food adventure by joining one of the local wild foraging excursions led by local foragers (see Events) or sample them prepared by acknowledgeable chef (see FOOD PEOPLE).

Another food adventure is visiting the region of origin and eating them there in its freshest state and best flavor. See our linked sister site American Gastronomic Regions for travel plans. The Food Travel section on this page is an excerpt from that site.

If you know Food Treasures we don't list and please contact us to help find them.

John Farais FOOD PEOPLE:
John Farais

John is an authoritative chef and lecturer on Native American foods. He shows their value for nutrition, sustainabilty, and as an integral part of America's food heritage. Some Native Indian foods are true Food Treasures such as the prickly pear fruit.

John speaks at the Marin County Fair July 4th: see EVENTS. Check his website