Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Would vegetarian prison meals reduce violence?

In India, prisoners are fed vegetarian meals for all but 4-9 meals per year (depending on whose estimate you accept), reports the Times of India. Reacting to a petition to increase meat options in prison diets, an Indian judge recently asked, "What is the logic behind this? There must be some scientific reason. Will prisoners become more violent if they have non-vegetarian food?" Good question, and quite frankly one that had never occurred to me.

What's the relationship between diet and aggression? Would prisons be less violent places if they served less meat? Or are there other nutritional changes that could influence offender behavior for the better?

It's not hard to find vegetarian activists who claim "meat eating promotes more aggressive behavior - a lack of gentleness in personality, and arrogance." Another common meme on the topic is that "in nature carnivorous animals are fierce and aggressive, while non-carnivorous ones are peaceful and sociable." Such declarations from holier-than-thou vegetarian activists are a dime a dozen and in general lack legitimate research to back up their claims. (After all, Adolf Hitler, the worst genocidal maniac in world history, was a vegetarian, showing that at best such stereotypes don't amount to a hard and fast rule.)

I was surprised, though, to learn how far back the idea that meat promotes aggression can be traced in Western thought. Plutarch argued there is an explicit trajectory from meat-eating to war and murder: "at the beginning it was some wild and harmful animal that was eaten, then a bird or fish that had its flesh torn. And so when our murderous instincts had tasted blood and grew practised on wild animals, they advanced to the labouring ox and the well-behaved sheep and the housewarding cock; thus, little by little giving a hard edge to our insatiable appetite, we have advanced to wars and the slaughter and murder of human beings."

 A much-cited quote attributed to the mathematician Pythagoras made the same claim: "For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."

And there are plenty of modern folk who believe there's a link between meat eating and aggression. Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong website suggests that, "People who rely on sugar and high-fat foods such as meat are more prone to violence and depression."

In the criminal justice system, Prison Legal News said recently that "reports of prisoner assaults increased dramatically" in Georgia after meals were scaled back to two per day. "Prison officials said the reduced diet was not the cause of the surge in violence, but offered no alternative explanation." In Kentucky two years ago, inmates orchestrated a violent prison riot over food so bad that one prison guard described it as "slop."

Whether meat per se is the issue or a lack of other healthy foods in prison diets, some studies have shown remarkable links between diet and inmate behavior. The UK-Guardian published a item several years ago about studies on prisoner diets, concluding that "violent behaviour may be attributable at least in part to nutritional deficiencies." The results of one landmark study were reported in this excerpt:
Aylesbury was at the time a prison for young male offenders, aged 17 to 21, convicted of the most serious crimes. Trevor Hussey was then deputy governor and remembers it being a tough environment. "It was a turbulent young population. They had problems with their anger. They were all crammed into a small place and even though it was well run you got a higher than normal number of assaults on staff and other prisoners."

Although the governor was keen on looking at the relationship between diet and crime, Hussey remembers being sceptical himself at the beginning of the study. The catering manager was good, and even though prisoners on the whole preferred white bread, meat and confectionery to their fruit and veg, the staff tried to encourage prisoners to eat healthily, so he didn't expect to see much of a result.

But quite quickly staff noticed a significant drop in the number of reported incidents of bad behaviour. "We'd just introduced a policy of 'earned privileges' so we thought it must be that rather than a few vitamins, but we used to joke 'maybe it's Bernard's pills'."

But when the trial finished it became clear that the drop in incidents of bad behaviour applied only to those on the supplements and not to those on the placebo.

The results, published in 2002, showed that those receiving the extra nutrients committed 37% fewer serious offences involving violence, and 26% fewer offences overall. Those on the placebos showed no change in their behaviour. Once the trial had finished the number of offences went up by the same amount. The office the researchers had used to administer nutrients was restored to a restraint room after they had left.

"The supplements improved the functioning of those prisoners. It was clearly something significant that can't be explained away. I was disappointed the results were not latched on to. We put a lot of effort into improving prisoners' chances of not coming back in, and you measure success in small doses."
That study did not indict meat per se but identified other deficiencies in prisoner diets - particularly low levels of Omega 3 (contained in fish oil) - that researchers believe contribute to aggression. In the US, reported the Guardian, "a clinical trial at the US government's National Institutes for Health, near Washington ... is investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the brain" by giving violent offenders pills containing Omega-3 rich fish oils. Researcher Joseph Hibbeln who's in charge of the study believes we are all suffering:
from widespread diseases of deficiency. Just as vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, deficiency in the essential fats the brain needs and the nutrients needed to metabolise those fats is causing of a host of mental problems from depression to aggression. Not all experts agree, but if he is right, the consequences are as serious as they could be. The pandemic of violence in western societies may be related to what we eat or fail to eat. Junk food may not only be making us sick, but mad and bad too.
Which bring us to commissary food - the other main source of calories for inmates besides what's served in the prison cafeteria. Much of it is straight up junk food or else processed foods without a great deal of nutritional value. Chips and snacks along with assorted drinks (mostly soda and coffee), processed meat products and dry goods are the most commonly purchased items. I've long thought that it would considerably improve inmate health (and potentially reduce long-term healthcare costs) to provide healthier options at the commissary and limit the junk food available.

As the link between nutrition and behavior becomes more thoroughly understood, perhaps it might also make sense for prisons and potentially even jails and probation departments to provide education on nutrition and advice on preparing healthy meals. Indeed, since about half of prisoners are parents of minor-age children, doing so might well even benefit their offspring when offenders return home to their families.

A final thought here on a more pragmatic note: Whether or not meat causes aggression, vegetarian meals are substantially cheaper to prepare. As Grits reported this spring, Texas slashed funding for prisoner food in the next biennium by 13.5% from 2009 levels, though global food prices are rising and they still plan on feeding the same number of prisoners. (After the cuts, prisoners now will spend more per year at the commissary, mostly for food, than the state has budgeted to feed them.) Necessity being the mother of invention, might introducing more vegetarian meals help keep up the nutritional value of prison food while accommodating already-implemented budget cuts? I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. And who knows, maybe doing so would reduce violence and improve chances for rehabilitation, to boot.

37 comments:

MaxM said...

I'm glad you highlighted nutrition and not just meat vs. veggie diets. Sound nutrition needs more attention at all levels of society to improve behavior, health and reduce cost. Nutrition being the key to health or lack there of in our factory farmed, highly processed and over sugared food is actually pretty well proven. This issue is not the lack of evidence but the downing out of facts by false counter claims made by pseudo-scientist lobbying on behalf of the corporate food providers. They practically own the USDA. I have no doubt that prison food will probably get worse instead of better in the foreseeable future as Coca Cola, Pepsi-co, and other junk food providers are allowed to fill the gaps and sell even more junk in the commissary.Look at our public schools and the so far unsuccessful fight to get garbage food and massive amounts of sugar (flavored milk one of the worst)out of the lunch room. And that's our kids, people that society actually still cares about. I doubt Jamie Oliver and ABC will do a Prison version of Food Revolution.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could just let Whole Foods have the vending contract for TDCJ-ID! I'm sure all of the convicts from The Peoples Republic of Travis County would go for that! :-)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hell, I can't even afford to shop at Whole Foods, which around my house we refer to as the "Whole Paycheck."

At 3 meals per day 365 days per year, the Lege has budgeted about $.54 per inmate meal over the next two years. Not much you can buy at Whole Foods on that budget!

MaxM said...

So can some tell me exactly why prisons stopped growing their own food? Seems that would cut cost and promote healthy eating. Their own Farmer's Market.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

MaxM, they still do grow their own food, but keep in mind even farming with free labor has costs (e.g., the water bill during a drought). According to the most recent annual report (p. 51):

"Agribusiness manages and operates several food processing plants and livestock production facilities
that provide canned vegetables, eggs and various finished meat products required to feed the offender population. During the 2009 calendar year, Agribusiness raised 31 varieties of fruits and vegetables in gardens comprising 3,928 acres, with production exceeding 18.8 million pounds.

"Community-style, unit-managed gardens contributed an additional four million pounds of fresh vegetables. More than 32,000 acres were dedicated to the production of cotton, grains and grasses, resulting in the harvest of 99.3 million pounds of product. At the close of calendar year 2009, on-hand livestock included 13,508 head of cattle, 22,690 swine, 291,523 laying hens and 1,572 horses. The poultry program produced approximately 5.4 million dozen eggs and the swine operation shipped 26,679 hogs to the packing plant. During this period, agency food processing plants canned 275,390 cases of vegetables and delivered more than 23 million pounds of finished meat items. Agribusiness makes use of approximately 2,500 offenders in its numerous enterprises."

Chris Halkides said...

Grits,

John Bohannon wrote an article about Bernard Gesch's work called, "The theory? Diet causes violence. The lab? Prison." for SciencemagScienceMag in 2009. Dr. Gesch doesn't want to point out one nutrient and say, "Aha, this is the one that is missing." He prefers to think in terms of nutritional balance. His 2002 study was praised for its statistical carefulness.

MaxM said...

Thanks for info. Grits. Looks like they raised quite a bit and while it's not free it was probably alot healthier than food brought into the prison.

Chris Halkides said...

Here is a quote about the desire to replicate the 2002 study with a follow up (the quote is from the link in my previous comment):
Easier said than done. Getting permission to run a ramped-up version of the 2002 study in U.K. prisons required “years of lobbying,” says John Stein, a physiologist at the University of Oxford who is co-leading the current trial with Gesch. The reason, says David Ramsbothom, former chief inspector of the U.K. prison service, is “an enormous amount of resistance to any effort to improve prisons, in part because of simple-minded, ‘get tough on crime’ politics.”

Sandy said...

Chris, sometimes it's hard to discern the fine line between getting tough on crime and getting stupid about crime, don't you think?

No one anywhere functions well while starving (and lack of required nutrients, not just calories or quantity, is starvation by its purest definition). Nutritional balance is the key to optimum performance for all - inmates, school kids, everybody.

Very interesting post, Grits. Thanks to you, to Chris, and to all who commented.

Prison Doc said...

Vegetarian Prison? It would be wonderful for the general health of all, though I doubt it would improve aggression. Could reduce health care costs too except the powers that be force us to spend too much on unneeded laboratory work.

Aggression? I doubt it would help; I'm a vegan and I am aggressive as all get out....

Chris Halkides said...

Sandy,

That is my thinking exactly. It is hard to see how one could spend money more wisely than on vitamins and perhaps on overall nutrition. I imagine it would save money in the long run because of the possibly fewer disciplinary incidents and better general health of the inmate population.

Soronel Haetir said...

It would be really easy to use the food to reduce violence. Lace everything with opiates. Lethargic prisoners just aren't going to have the energy or desire to act out.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Soronel, if they're spending 54 cents per meal do you really think TDCJ is going to spring for opiates? :)

sunray's wench said...

It is 2 meals a day on weekends at State jails and intake facilities now, not 3, and from Sept 1st it is to be 2 meals a day every day.

Nutrition is one aspect of the issue of violence in prisons, but certainly not the only apect. Please don't think that by changing the diet, all the violence will go away. Even if you feed inmates well, by keeping them in very restricted conditions (could you live in a room the size of your bathroom with another man 18/7 and not feel some irritation towards him?) in ridiculously hot conditions, with little to occupy them and little chance of earning their way out of prison, you are still going to periodically get violent outbursts.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

True that, sw. Not a panacea. But perhaps not a negligible factor, either.

Hadn't heard about shifting to two meals per day, is that all units or just state jail and intake? If so, the $.54 is understated. At two meals per day they'd be spending $.81 per meal.

Nurseypooh said...

Years ago TDCJ decided to stop making "Blue Bell ice cream" available in the commisary and chose another brand. An inmate sued and won, they have had blue bell available for them to buy ever since.
I don't see this making a big impact, a more healthy approach would be to serve frozen or fresh in season veggies they grow themselves instead of the canned laden with salt they now serve. Stop serving so much pork, using so much butter, sodium and pancakes.
The inmates are provided nutritional education thru the medical dept. on diet and excercise to improve or maintain their health, usually to those already exp. high blood sugar etc. but it is available to anyone who request it.

DEWEY said...

Are they trying to bring back Vita Pro???
@ Nurseypoo: Having spent almost 5 tears in TDC (a looong time ago, during the summer, Blue Bell is not a luxury, but a necessity !!

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Another comment from a long time ago, in the 70's TDC grew their own food AND supplied the welfare system with vegetables. Packed in silver gallon buckets labeled as to what was contained, Packed by Inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections. At that time I believe Texas was sither the only or one of a few prison systems in the U.S. that turned a profit.

sunray's wench said...

Nurseypooh ~ can the inmates that are given the nutrition advice actually follow it though, given that they have limited choice at mealtimes (ie, eat what's offered, or not)? Or is this "nutritional advice" limited to "don't purchase these things at commissary"?

Hubby would prefer to eat more fish, grains and vegetables along with real milk that hasn't had corn syrup added to the dried protien, but while he is in TDCJ he has to make do with the fish pouches from commissary and multi-vitamins/garlic capsules.


Scott ~ just the State Jails and intakes for now, but I'm sure it wont be long before the rest follow suit.

Anonymous said...

How many of you have actually incognito sat down to a meal in a TDCJ unit? The commissary purchases are mainly to make their own food in "prison recipes" rather than eat the garbage that passes for meals in the chow hall.

Anonymous said...

We are biologically Omnivors, our bodies are desined to process both meat and Veggies. That said maybe india has it right, serve less meat and save a few dollars while providing for basic needs.

Ham2mtr

M. Edwards said...

While it is true that TDCJ produces much of the meat served, and do supply some vegetables from their fields, particularly in the south, much of the rest of the food comes from CHINA. Yes, I guess it is cheaper to buy low quality food and have it shipped across the world than to buy local. Millions of dollars are spent on Chinese packed food. What if that $$ were instead recycled through the Texas economy by buying Texas grown produce? Just a thought....

Nurseypooh said...

Dewey, no vita-pro is not coming back and I'm certainly no mad about the blue bell. I enjoy it also.

S.W.-you are right, I mentioned it because someone made a reference to the inmates being educated so they can implement it into their families lives when they go home. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels when I do pt. teaching with someone who has high blood pressure because of all the sodium in the chow hall food, but the best advice I can give them is to not use the seasoning pack in the soups or just use half of it, or buy spices like onion and garlic powder to try at least try to cut down on some of their sodium intake. I'd rather they not eat the soups at all but I know it's a big staple item and a lot of them don't have a lot of money or choices and I always add if they're going home within the next year or so, "when you go home" do this or this.
Because we have a very high minority population in prison we have more with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc. I give the advice anyway just trying to save their kidneys possibly, the Dr. don't have time to educate them very much so nurses do as much as we can if they will listen or interested.
I always tell them to eat the beans and greens for the fiber to promote regularity and the beans are not canned, they're dried which are soaked and cooked, still have a lot of salt and if the cook has things to season with the greens and beans are usually good.

I eat the same food the inmates get 2-3 times per week.

One reason they don't raise as much of their food anymore is because it takes security officers to watch the offender's who work outside in the gardens. Short of staff, it takes a lot of money to maintain security of those who work in the fields. They also have temp. extreme rules now.

Chris Halkides said...

Although I don't have a strong opinion on vegetarianism with respect to prison diets, I still feel that adding vitamins and providing good nutrition is promising. Going for the low hanging fruit is almost literally true in this instance.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nurseypooh, thanks so much for your contribution on this string. Well done. Can you tell us a little more about your impressions of nutritional shortcomings both at the cafeteria and commissary? If you could revamp both to maximize health and nutritional value, what would you change?

Same question to you, Prison Doc, and ftm anybody else with firsthand knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Soronel, if they're spending 54 cents per meal do you really think TDCJ is going to spring for opiates? :)

Grits you forget the opium poppy grow in the US. The prisons could just add it to the crop list. Lets see we provide this batch to the prisoners and smuggle one out with the guards.....

Just kidding

Ham2mtr

Nurseypooh said...

Grits I'd be glad too.
CHOW HALL POSITIVES
1.They offer a variety of generic cold cereals, bran flakes, cheerios, raisin bran, frosted flakes and corn flakes. Good fiber on the bran and cheerios.

2.Right now there seems to be an oversurplus in eggs, so this last month or so it's a lot of eggs, egg salad etc. good source of protein.

3.They usually offer one hot cereal, grits or oatmeal. Oatmeal is great for lowering cholesterol I eat them dry at work.

4.They offer pre-made frozen boxed, corn dogs, chicken patties, square fish, hamburger patties about once a week to break up the monotomy a bit from the usual fare.

5.The units that are serving brunch and supper, the portions are very large at both meals and amt. to the same amt. of calories as 3 meals per day.

6.Depending on the talent of the cook on duty some of them can make things very tasty but that one cook can't work 24 hours per day.

CHOW HALL NEGATIVES

1.To much butter. (They get it free along with cheese and peanut butter from FDA commodity.)

2.To many starchy foods.

3.To much sodium by adding salt and using mostly canned veggies, pork, pork roll steak.

4.To many pancakes.

5.No fresh fruits or veggies. (except every once in a while if one farm has a bumper crop of something right now it's cantaloupes.) They don't serve them very often though, you have to have enough to fee ALL the inmates or have a riot.

CHOW HALL MENU IMPROVMENTS:

1.Stop using butter so much, they put it in canned veggies to make it more tasty but it is overused.

2.Cut down on starches and replace them with more green veggies or fruits.

3.Sodium-Cut the salt in half added during cooking, if the offenders need more salt let the add it to their tray. Stop serving so much pork and eliminate the pork roll steak (Yuck) it's like spam. Serve more fish and chicken. TDCJ could grow their own fish but canned would be better than none and at least once per week tuna or salmon.

4.Serve more of a hot cereal variety, breakfast casseroles to include eggs, cheese, onions, and potatoes. Add yogurt to combat some of the stomach and yeast ailments (female unit's mostly) but still good bacteria for anyone and a dairy product.

5.Buy in season fresh fruits in bulk (not as costly) same with frozen veggies in bulk because I know they are more expensive and the reason we don't have them. Allow in the budget for more staff to maintain a larger unit garden and greenhouse so inmates can grow their own veggies and fruit.

Powdered Milk-I'm not opposed to powdered milk I've used it in cereal at our unit before. I've used it with my family also and keep some on hand at home if needed. Grown adults don't really need milk anyway as long as they get other dairy products in their diet.

I realize some of these changes are unrealistic due to the cost. I haven't seen a commisary list in a while so I will have to get back to you on that one.

Sandy said...

Nurseypooh, thanks for the effort but some of your positives are just not positive for nutrition. All of your #4 should go to the negative category.

#5 is a problem, too. Two meals may be more convenient from a supervisory position but the human body needs to refuel about every 4 waking hours. Fewer smaller meals are by far healthier than a couple of big ones. The fewer and the bigger the meals are the more likely they will promote obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, indigestion, and acid reflux issues. Depression, too. That's just the top-of-my-head list of human ailments triggered by malnutrition. The complete list is shocking.

I've studied nutrition since the 70s - in college, culinary school, and on the job as a chef who specializes in healthy foods. There's huge public misconception as to what healthy foods really are, thanks in large part to brainwashing from advertisers hired by the industrial factory food complex.

Too many sick Americans think nutrition can be negotiated. It cannot. It's based in science and science doesn't care how convincing or well-funded the argument.

Nurseypooh said...

Sandy I'm well aware of the points you brought out. I was ask to give a list of the things I know of prison food 1st hand.

My comments were made using what I know is served, available and the limits of the budgets, selections and preferences.

The "fast junk food" I mentioned isn't really good for anyone but it helps keep the inmates from totally going without some of the comfort foods most are used too.

We can't force anyone to eat healthy in prison or freeworld, even if your locked up and offered a very limited menu, they can still add the salt, not eat their veggies and buy whatever they want out of the commisary if they have the money.

If you totally restrict someones choices to eat things they are accustomed to, it usually works in reverse to teach them to eat healthier, we all want what we can't have!

Sandy said...

I don't want what I can't have. Instead, I value what I DO have.

Nurseypooh said...

Sadly Sandy most of the prison population in Texas does not feel the way you do.

sunray's wench said...

Too many eggs will raise cholesterol levels though, yes? And according to hubby, the eggs are mostly fried. Boiled eggs would be better.

Hubby has never had pasta in his 7 years in TDCJ. The bread is always white, never wholegrain.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting string about the nutrition in prisons. I've been eating prison food for a long time, since 1982 when I started working for them.

When I first started the food was much better. Fresh meats, actual chicken legs, thighs, and breasts on fried chicken day, and actual pork chops. Plus, there was more fresh vegetables. Then came vita pro, and good meat disappeared. Now, the meat consists of ground meat, or pork rolls, or hot dogs, and sometimes corn dogs. Every now and then I'll see pork chops, but not often.

Now day's the units who can have vegetable gardens, do and grow some pretty good vegetables. And, that helps a lot. I see fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, and other melons, in the chow halls. And, our units with large gardens try to share their excess fresh produce with other units who do not, or cannot, have a vegetable garden. When the fresh stuff is not available I see the canned vegetables and beans that others have spoken of above.

My impression of prison food, after having eaten at every unit in my region, is that a lot of the quality of the food depends on the kitchen staff in charge of the food service department. With good staff, who know what they are doing, the food preparation seems to be much better.

One thing I would note, it's my understanding that our agriculture department sells most of what they produce, and TDCJ purchases their food at reduced cost else where. I don't work in food service, or know much about that part of it. But, that's what I understand. I think our food in prison would be much better if TDCJ would supply the units with meat, poultry, vegetables....etc that they grow, prior to selling it on the free market.

In closing, I would say that while prison food is not going to be gourmet, it is nutritious, and when prepared properly, tastes pretty good. I would also say that a unit with food prepared properly, has a better behaved inmate population. By that I mean, decent food will prevent a lot of problems. Poor food can escalate into offenders with grievances about their food, and if not handled, can cause disturbances over the food. So, good food is essential in a prison environment. While some staff refuse to eat prison food for various reasons, I like eating it, and it's been keeping me healthy for 29yrs.

Thanks for listening,

Marty Ley
Region 3

Anonymous said...

I should correct one part of my comment. We do get actual chicken legs, thighs in our chow halls. Sometimes its fried, sometimes it's baked. I do like eating it, as it tastes pretty good most of the time. I'm sorry for my mistake on that part.

Marty Ley
region 3

econh said...

I found this to be a very interesting piece to read. Although it seems a correlation between diet and inmate violence cannot be completely proven yet, I personally think diet and nutrient intake definitely play roles in behavior and mood. Inmates who are fed meat may be under the mindset that they have more energy and proteins and are thus more capable of fighting if the situation were to arise. The mere image of meat may also contribute to a more outspoken and violence perspective as compared to vegetables, which are generally less dominant and more peaceful. From my perspective, feeding inmates more vegetables and less meat only bears positive consequences. Hopefully, the change in diet will lower violence rates in prisons, and preparing meals with more vegetables is more cost effective for prisons as well. However, I do believe it will be hard to switch from meals that contain meat to meals with little or no meat at all in prisons where inmates are accustomed to eating meat frequently. Inmates may feel they are being cheated of their rights or that the prison is not adequately feeding them, and this may prompt them to rebel violently, the opposite of the objective. In cases like these, perhaps gradually lowering the amount of meat offered at each meal while increasing varieties of other food items is a considerable option.

Anonymous said...

Stalin was the worst genocidal maniac in history. Must be the vodka.

Nurseypooh said...

To many eggs? yes it can raise cholesterol if you have that genetic marker but it's a good source of protein. I'd rather see them serve eggs than pork, pork, pork for protein. On the units I've been on the eggs are mostly boiled or scrambled every once in a while fried. Fried eggs take a lot more time and effort to cook and keep warm without making the rubbery. Sack lunches almost always have at least one boiled egg in it. I had mentioned they must have a surplus of eggs as of late because we've been having a lot of them. We see whole wheat bread along with white but it really depends on what is available, in the odr we have to ask for whole wheat if they have it. They make lots of cornbread.

I agree more fresh veggies would be better and if grown by their own unit it would give the inmates who work outside more pride in their work and desire to eat veggies they may have never eaten before without all the salt and butter too. You can actually taste what something taste like w/o added salt.

I agree they will riot over food! Have rioted over food! Sued over Blue Bell! There is usually at least one fight on chicken day! They don't get chicken legs and thighs that often maybe twice per month. Ground meat is used in casseroles mostly, meatloaf on occasion. They have pork roll, pork chops (low quality) but meat just the same, ground pork, pork sausage, pork ribs, lots of pork. LOL that could be made into a joke.

Yes, food plays a big part in morale even with the food from the prison store, there are many inmates who don't recieve money from loved ones or if they do they choose to spend it on other things than food stuff.
Everyone has made some very good points on this string and it has been interesting.