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Monday, June 18, 2012

High Soy Rations Torture Prisoners

Edit: I did not post this as an expose of the maltreatment of prisoners. I think several people think I am a bleeding-heart who wants prisoners treated better. No, we all deserve better food.  It is to emphasize the harm that soy can cause. Read the link at the bottom for a prisoner-less post of information. You may certinly comment with your disagreements.
I feel passionately about soy dangers. But, I am not going to argue my points on another post that believes the opposite of what I believe and just as passionately.

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High Soy Rations Torture Prisoners: Nutrition Expert Asks Obama to Intervene

Washington DC, November 18, 2008—The president of an influential nutrition education organization has called for President-Elect Barack Obama to intervene in a prison feeding program that is poisoning inmates in the Illinois prison system.

In an open letter to Obama, Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, urged the president-elect “to focus on a grave injustice taking place in the prisons of your home state, namely, a prison diet that is slowly killing the inmates assigned to the Illinois Department of  Corrections. This is a diet based largely on soy protein powder and soy flour. As you stated on last night’s 60 Minutes Program, America does not condone torture. I think you would agree that what is happening in the Illinois prisons is a form of torture.”

Soy protein and soy flour are toxic, especially in large amounts. The US Food and Drug Administration lists over 200 studies in its database showing the toxicity of soy. Numerous studies show that soy consumption leads to nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, endocrine disruption and thyroid problems.

Even the most ardent supporters of soy, such as Dr. Mark Messina, warn against consuming more than about 20 grams of soy protein per day. But the inmates in Illinois are getting upwards of 100 grams per day—beef and chicken by-product mixtures containing 60-70 percent soy, fake soy meats and cheese, even soy added to baked goods. The change from a diet based largely on beef to one based on soy happened in 2003, when Mr. Rod Blagojevich began his first term as governor.

According to Fallon Morell, the national office of the Weston A. Price Foundation has heard from dozens of inmates begging for help. Almost all suffer from serious digestive disorders, such as diarrhea or painful constipation, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome and sharp pains in the digestive tract. One reason for these problems is the high oxalic acid content of soy—no food is higher in oxalic acid than soy protein isolate, which can contain up to 630 milligrams per serving, at least six times higher than the amount found in typical diets.

Oxalic acid is associated with kidney stones, but the sharp crystal deposits can form in almost every tissue in the body--in the heart where they can stop electrical signals; in the bones where they can displace bone marrow cells, leading to anemia or immune deficiency; in the brain where they can impair the transmission of signals; and in the skin where they can cause fibromyalgia.

Other problems reported by the inmates include acne, hair loss, depression, lethargy, allergies, heart arrhythmias, passing out after soy consumption, frequent infections and constant feeling of cold. Many of these are symptoms of low thyroid function. The estrogen-like compounds in soy are known to depress thyroid function.

When the prisoners seek medical treatment, they are told that soy does not cause the problems they are experiencing. Even those who vomit or pass out immediately after eating soy cannot get an order for a soy-free diet. They are told: “If the soy disagrees with you, don’t eat it. Buy food from the commissary.” And since most of the inmates cannot afford to purchase food from the commissary, they are faced with a choice of serious health problems or starvation. Several have had sections of their colons removed when a simple return to a nutritious, soy-free diet would have solved the problem. One inmate who passes out whenever he consumes soy was given a pacemaker.

Several inmates have filed lawsuits. One inmate has been subjected to illegal and life-threatening retaliatory actions as a result of his filing two lawsuits claiming inadequate medical care. Pro bono legal help is urgently needed for these cases.

According to law, prisoners are entitled to “nutritionally adequate food” (Ramos v Lamm, 639.2d 559, 1980). According to Illinois law, “Infliction of unnecessary suffering on prisoner by failure to treat his medical needs is inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency and violates the Eighth Amendment” (Key Note 7. Criminal Law 1213).

The justification for the switch from beef to soy is to save money. But according to one court case, “A lack of financing is not a defense to a failure to satisfy minimum constitutional standards in prisons” (Duran v. Anaya, 642, Supp. 510 (DNM 1986), page 525, paragraph 6).

In fact, it is unlikely that the soy diet is saving the state of Illinois any money, because of greatly increased medical costs and the risk to the state of costly lawsuits. The state of Virginia provides grass-fed beef to inmates at no cost to the state. Low-risk prisoners raise the beef at Sky Meadows State Park. The surplus is sold to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, resulting in a net gain for the prison budget. All over the country prisons are instituting creative ways to save money while teaching inmates new skills, including gardening, animal husbandry, beekeeping, food processing, composting and recycling.

“It is said that a nation is judged on the way it treats its prisoners,” says Fallon Morell. “The American prison system is predicated on the premise that criminals can be rehabilitated. To feed prisoners a diet that can permanently ruin their health robs them of any opportunity for rehabilitation, renders them unfit for normal life when they are released, and will impose an unnecessary burden on the state’s medical services. “It constitutes a medical experiment and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and must be stopped.”

Fallon Morell ends her letter to the next U.S. President with a plea for action: “Mr. Obama, you can stop this cruel soy-feeding experiment with one phone call. I urge you to be that champion of fairness and justice that you promised during your campaign by making that call.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a non-profit nutrition education foundation dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. The Foundation is spearheading a national campaign to warn consumers about the dangers of modern soy foods. Please visit their website to learn more about the Foundation’s Soy Alert! campaign.

My words are not believed. So, maybe the "experts" can convince someone.

Do you have any of the symptoms in The Dangers of Soy are Real-Much Worse Than You Think ?

Your turn
So, what do you think?


  1. We can certainly have no problem with someone being held accountable and paying for their crimes and still expect them to be treated humanely.

    There was a riot in a Massachusetts prison--I think back in the 30's or earlier--because the prisoners were fed lobster most days. It was considered trashy food at the time, basically offal. So now there's a law on the books saying prisoners won't be served lobster more than 3 times a week.

    I read somewhere that soy is fine if eaten the way Asians eat it (the people who have had the most experience with the stuff)--they never traditionally used it as an additive or as a protein powder, etc.

    I am pretty sure that tofu is low in oxalic acid as are soy condiments like soy sauce or miso. TVP and tempeh and whole soybeans aren't, nor are the fillers.

    1. Pamela,
      Did you read the link at the bottom? It explains what is actually dangerous. Asians us soy as a condiment only, not as a whole meal or a large portion of the meal. Read the link.

  2. I read the link--though I will say that having lived in Japan, tofu consumption was quite high.

    I agree that the people who worship at the altar of soy are being simplistic and that too much soy is dangerous. I think that being used as a filler is a bad thing, and it's something we're seeing thanks to the huge subsidies we give to commodity crops like corn and soy. I don't think feeding a captive population (or any population) only one thing is a good thing, ever, be it soy, or corn, or beef, etc.

    1. Not having lived in Japan, I cannot comment on their consumption of tofu. I do understand that the traditional consumption of soy was minimal. Funny you should mention corn and soy together since both are used to excess and promoted as healthful, even in excess.

      In many ways we are all captive, or at least the majority of us. People in poverty often eat what they can afford. Ignorance is no excuse, but, yes it is when we are lied to from all side. Choices for many are few and expensive.

  3. Linda, that's a very interesting article. I don't eat soy unless it's tucked into something and I don't know about it. Mostly I don't NEED to eat it because I have plenty of eggs from my own chickens and the farm stand is nearby, and because most things it's in have too much carb and I avoid that. I think a lot of soy goes into livestock feed. I wonder if it's as bad for animals as for humans? And what about all the babies who don't get breast milk, but are fed soy formula? Yuck!

    1. Jan,
      Read my reply to Pamela about choices, knowledge, and affordability. Soy is in animal feed. I won't feed commercial feed, including corn to my hens. I don't want my food supply (eggs) contmainated.

      Read the second article in the link at the bottom. I think that the ramifications of feeding soy to babies or anyone are far-reaching.

  4. I certainly think eating too much of any one food can be detrimental, if for no other reason than we don't eat a variety to give us all the nutrients we need.

    Eating too many bananas may not be possible! LOL

  5. My daughter was not able to tolerate cows milk so we supplemented brest milk with soy milk. We eat tofu, Tempeh and soy sauce. We do not eat junk food as a rule so do not get overloaded on corn or soy derivatives. It's an animal feed? Really? Thousands of years as a food staple for humans in Asia and we can judge it as worthy of only animal feed?
    My daughter is healthy despite soy milk at a young age. Look at tne island of Okinawa for longevity reports and soy consumption. Read pubmed.

    Its not a hammers food...but neither is a come. Do you all not drink coke then.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Trying to clarify tne last sentence for typos. I meant to say " it's not a totally harmless food but neither is a coke."

  7. Hey, lay off the Coke...that is meddling...just kidding.

    I know, lock me up so I cannot get to Coke. I am trying to cut back and then not drink it at all. I am just glad I am not addicted to hard drugs or alcohol. My diet is cleaner than most, but still can use cleaning up.

  8. Where have I been? I hadn't heard that high soy consumption could be harmful. I can't have dairy anything, so have relied on soy for a long while. Since we never really know what's in our food, I think it's always wise to eat a vary wide variety of foodstuffs.
    I may rotate my milks more often, in the future. I rotate between rice, soy, almond and hemp, so that I won't develop an allergy to any one product. But I do tend to buy more soy milk as it's cheapest and has more protein.
    And I personally don't think it's such a good idea for children to drink so much cows milk. There are some foods that western society is relying on too heavily.


For the present, I am taking comment moderation off the blog.