Inmate Eric Harris, 34, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Florida prisons are feeding prisoners to much soy, that the majority of their meat and protein are coming from soy and that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Federal courts have ruled in the past that prisons must feed prisoners healthy meals but did not say anything about the looks or taste of the meal. Florida DOC feeds inmates about 50% of their meat and protein with a soy substitute instead, saving about $42 million a year as a result, according to a DOC spokesperson. That amount is based on a 2,700 calorie diet as required by law, but the FDA says that amount of soy exceeds their recommendations. Soy is part of the overall diet recommended by the USDA in moderated amounts.
Harris is claiming that it has threatened his thyroid, caused painful gastrointestinal cramping, and compromised his immune system, all things which he says are medical problems for him and are listed as possible side effects of eating too much soy.
The state currently spends $1.07 per meal to feed an inmate. They say they must be smart with taxpayer money and that if a real meat were to be used, they would need an increase on their state budget. The prisons started serving soy as the main substitute in November of 2009 and most inmates are eating it they say, but Harris points out they don’t have a choice, it’s that or starves.
The Weston A. Price Foundation paid for the filing fees for Harris’s lawsuit, which was filed in Tallahassee. Weston A. Price Foundation advocates having inmates work a coop to raise beef and chicken which would lower the cost of feeding inmates and give them a better quality meal.