Orlando Sentinel Breaks Soy Prison Story

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Efforts to Rectify Soy Diet Lack Popular Support

by Kimberly Hartke

Steven Hudak, reporter for The Orlando Sentinel wrote a story in this past Sunday’s paper about a Florida inmate suing to get a decent diet for the incarcerated. Since then, numerous TV stations have contacted The Weston A. Price Foundation and are also covering the story, and in this post I will share the links to those stories.

Overwhelmingly, the general public finds it outrageous that the prisoners would complain. The lack of empathy of some of the commenters on these soy prison diet stories is appalling. Our staff is getting blistered by callers who are spitting mad we would try to help the prisoners get a traditional food meal. You know, real meat, vegetables, potatoes, fruit.

Why We Should Care about How Prisoners are Fed

My father spent the last decade or more of his life going into federal prisons and speaking to the men and women inside. He was involved with Prison Fellowship ministries as a volunteer. Maybe that is why I understand that these people, regardless of the wrongs they did outside, are just as human as we are, even though behind bars.

They long for human contact, they need a kind word, they fear being forgotten. They are bored and anxious, and often live in fear of prison violence. They have loved ones and homes they miss. Many are repentant and long to start a new life upon their exodus from the corrections facility.

We must imagine ourselves in their place before judging harshly.

The highlight of their day should be chow time, when they get something nourishing and tasty, a reminder of home. Certainly, the stew or soup they are served should remind them of mom’s (or grandma’s) home cooking, an incentive to get out, go straight and go home, right?

And, bone broth soups are really not costly to serve. A thrifty dietary department could probably find a nearby farm or processing facility to provide bones for next to nothing.

How do we ever hope to rehabilitate someone if our prisons are dishing up three daily doses of pain and suffering?

The soy prison food is causing thyroid problems, heart problems, digestive issues, constipation, cramping, skin irritation, flatulence (the latter because this non-food is indigestible).

Lead Plaintiff is Not a Sympathetic Character, But Let’s Not Shoot the Messenger

Most of the strenuous objectors to the Florida lawsuit seem to focus on the fact that the plaintiff is a sex offender, a child sex offender sentenced to life behind bars. He is a paralegal and has done several prior lawsuits which seem frivolous. Especially to one judge who threw this suit out of his federal court not based on its merit, but on the lack of merit of the previous two.

However, this suit is not to be dismissed for lack of merit. I have heard from a number of distressed families of inmates over the  past few years. Elderly mothers and even grandmothers have called me, worried sick about their loved ones. And, it is important t to note that this prisoner is trying to help all the inmates, not just himself by filing a class action suit that others can join.

One Florida inmate wrote an impassioned guest blog for Hartkeisonline.com, Soy Poisoning is Happening in Florida, Too.

It is clear from the comments why we need to fight this food poisoning outrage. The general public is convinced soy is healthy (after millions in marketing and advertising told them so). If they don’t hear about the deleterious effects on prisoners health through the media, how will they be forewarned of the dangers of this toxic food?

Why We All Need to Care about Bad Prison Nutrition

Here are the talking points I wrote for our staff who are fielding calls about the lawsuit.

1. Soy food is also being wrongfully promoted as a health food to the general public.
2. Soy food is being introduced to schools, nursing homes, other institutions on this same basis.
3. This lawsuit is raising the issue of the unfounded health claims on soy, the prisoners are just guinea pigs.
4. Not all prisoners are there for life, not all did heinous crimes. Yet all are subject to this toxic diet.
5. Prisons are supposed to be about rehabilitation, not just punishment. These prisoners will be out someday, do we want them coming out damaged and mad at the system?
6. We must consider the prisoners families who suffer, knowing their family member is being denied wholesome nutrition and instead given a harmful high soy prison diet.
7. Society will foot the bill for exorbitant health costs if the diet doesn’t change.

Media Coverage of Florida Lawsuit

Here are the other media reports, so far. I will add more to this post as I find them.

Please, if you care about this issue, go and comment on these stories. Your compassion for these men and women will surely help us reach those who are just knee-jerk reacting to the story.

Fox News: Prisoner Suing Over Soy Meals

Clermont Inmate Suing State Over Prison Food

Daily Commercial: Sex Convict Sues Over Soy in Food

Huffington Post: Soy is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

New York Times: Soy Diet is Cruel and Unusual, Florida Inmate Claims

How You Can Help

We are looking for a Florida attorney willing to help put together this class action lawsuit. Please contact info@westonaprice.org, if you are such an attorney or want to recommend one for us to contact.

If you know of an inmate in the Florida Corrections system, please request a form to send them to fill out to join the lawsuit. Or, if you are a family member willing to speak to the press about the complaints you are hearing from your loved one. Contact press@westonaprice.org.

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Soy Alert! Campaign, a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. See this Soy Alert! brochure for more details about the dangers of modern soy foods.




  1. Amish stories says:

    I’m spending a little time checking out new blogs, so i thought id stop and say hello to you folks. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon Pennsylvania.

  2. Most of the prisons I have seen shut down their farms and gardens OR they raise good food and are not allowed to eat it.

  3. I’ve monitored comments on the WAPF site pages about the soy lawsuit. The lack of compassion is something else. Not all prisoners are murderers, rapists, and child molesters. A large portion are for small time drug offenses or thefts–people who could likely be rehabilitated. Most people will eventually be released. They need to be in decent shape to move on with their lives after their debt is paid. Years of poor nutrition are only going to mean society is saddled with more of a burden from them in terms of health care costs, poor judgment from reduced mental faculties, etc. I would so love to see prisons going back to producing a good portion of their food. I bet so many of the prisoners would love to learn valuable skills farming, keeping livestock and bees, harvesting, preserving, and cooking. Then they could DO something when they get out.

  4. I’m sitting here planning out my weekly menu and searching
    through my favorite blogs for ideas and I just wanted to take a moment and say
    thank you for your blog and your wonderful dishes. This black-eyed peas dish
    looks so amazing. It’s quick with just a few ingredients. I love it.

  5. Kris Johnson says:

    I thought this was supposed to be a Christian nation! Jesus’ comment on the unmerciful:
    ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…. I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Matthew 25:41v , 43b

    Seems to me that folks might see the benefit to all that if prisoners grew and prepared their own food. And wouldn’t you think they might be a little concerned about feeding soy to our school children when they hear of the troubles the prisoners are having on the soy based diet???

    • Thanks, Kris that Bible quote is powerful. Yes, we all need to find mercy for the least of us. It is a real struggle, but one that improves our soul.

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. Eddie Martinez says:

    People need to know the facts about SOY and I turn out to be one of those people first hand. As a former I.D.O.C. inmate I have and continue to experience the harmful effects of SOY. While incarcerated I consume many SOY products and was led to believe that it is good for me and wow am I paying the price now. As I proceed to navigate through this web sites and here the horror stories being told former inmates and people in general. I’m motivated to share portions of my story with u. On Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM, Eddie Martinez wrote:

  7. Eddie Martinez says:

    http://hartkeisonline.com/food-politics/former-prison-inmate-suffers-high-soy-diet-damage/ Please click on this web site and sorry for your inconvenience I meant to posted with the article above

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