What Is Nutraloaf, Anyway?

Plus, pruno, “prison pizza,” and more cruel and unusual nourishment


FEAR AND LOAFING
VERMONT PRISONERS SAY NUTRALOAF IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL NOURISHMENT. PRISON OFFICIALS SAY IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER.

“Nutraloaf is a ‘food product’ composed of ‘whole wheat bread, non-dairy cheese, raw carrots, spinach, seedless raisins, Great Northern beans, vegetable oil, tomato paste, powdered milk, and dehydrated potato flakes;’ these ingredients are ‘mixed and baked.'” —Vermont appellate court brief, November 2006

“Nutraloaf is neither punishment, nor is its quality inferior to that of regular inmate meals…[It] is only provided to inmates who are placed in segregated confinement for the misuse of food and bodily waste.” —Prison official’s legal memorandum, Vermont Superior Court, September 2005

“If defendant wants to continue to spin out his Orwellian fantasy, and claim that nutraloaf is of the same ‘quality’ as normal prison food, this Court need only order a judicial tasting.” —Prisoners’ memorandum, Vermont Superior Court, September 2005

MEAN CUISINE
Prison moonshine, or pruno, is made by sealing fruit, sugar, ketchup, and water in a garbage bag, often stored inside a toilet for several days.

Tired of mess-hall food, some prisoners prepare “prison pizza”—a crust of ramen noodles and crushed chips or crackers, topped with cheese spread and sausage.

FASHION CRIMES
Inmates in Arizona’s Maricopa County Jail work on chain gangs (tasks include digging graves), wear black-and-white stripes, and are fed two 15-cent meals daily.

Prisoners in South Carolina who masturbate publicly or sexually assault each other or staff are made to wear pink uniforms for 3 months.

CROWD CONTROL
According to a Prison Legal News investigation, overcrowding has caused sewage spills in more than 30 prisons in 17 states, causing wastewater contamination, disease outbreaks, and inmates’ deaths.

San Juan County Detention Center in New Mexico, Georgia’s Hancock State Prison, and Maricopa County Jail house inmates in tents.

The Mojo Prison Guide Menu

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.