Unbeknownst to some people, certain "health" foods have the potential to do much harm than good. Case in point: Soy.
As one of the most popular replacements for meat protein, soy has become a staple in many people's diets . . . ranging from health advocates and vegetarians to everyday consumers who just want to reduce their meat intake.
Just because it is sold in health food stores, however, does not mean that it is healthy. Excessive soy consumption can lead to hyperthyroidism and even death. Prisoner of Soy?
Used as a staple food for many prison meals, inmates regularly consume soy-based turkey dogs, burgers and sloppy Joes.
So one might pose the question . . . Could heavy soy intake cause inmates to develop health problems, and could this soy-based regimen be considered cruel and unusual punishment? One inmate has decided to take a stand against this potentially dangerous protocol.
Eric D. Harris is a 34 year old inmate who is serving a life sentence at the Lake Correctional Institution in Florida for sexual battery on a child. Harris is suing the Department of Corrections as a direct response to the meals with high soy concentration that he has been eating, and said the soy in his prison food is threatening his health by endangering his thyroid
, as well as his immune system.
Three times a day, every day, Florida prisoners are served meals that contain 50 percent soy and 50 percent poultry. This substitution of actual meat has helped reduce the cost of a prison food to only $1.70 a day for each inmate, and the practice began in 2009. The Danger in the Bean
Soybeans, as provided by nature, are not suitable for human consumption. It is only after a long period of fermentation, extensive processing and chemical extractions that the soy protein isolate is suitable for ingestion. Soybeans contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid, which all other beans carry as well. However, soybeans have the highest levels of phytic acid than any other bean or legume. In addition, soybeans contain extremely potent enzyme inhibitors that can prevent the body from digesting protein properly, which could lead to severe gastric distress and painful cramps.
Studies continue to emerge from both sides, who either claim soy is healthful for us, or claim that excessive soy comes with risk
. This is without even mentioning the many prisoners who have soy allergies and are at risk of accidentally or forcefully ingesting soy. The Debate Rages On
But really, simply because soy is used so frequently in prison meals, and it is known to be dangerous in high volumes, is this a cruel and unusual punishment? Knowingly feeding this potential hazard to our prisons' inmates raises the controversial subject of human rights, and whether some human rights should be applied to even the most ruthless criminals.