More and more, it seems that money and corporate interests inextricably intertwine the giants of the food industry and politicians. One glaring example of just how politicians and corporations work together for their own mutual benefit rather than to support public interests currently centers around the Illinois prison and school systems.
Industrial Soy-based Diet & Illinois Prisons and Schools
Since 2003, inmates of the Illinois prison system have been fed a diet comprised largely of soy and soy protein isolate. Inexpensive by comparison to beef, cheese and other animal-based foods, soy seems a simple and easy way to cut costs – especially on a large, institutional level. Soy “cheese” replaced dairy cheeses. Soy protein isolate was mixed with insubstantial amounts of meat and served daily. Soy flour and soy protein were added to baked goods and other items.
Illinois prisoners were consuming upwards of 100 grams of soy a day according to a letter issued by Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, to President Obama. Note that even in Asian countries soy consumption rarely exceeds 30 grams a day and usually hovers at about 10 grams per day; moreover, the soy consumed is largely fermented as in the case of miso, natto, tempeh and tamari. It is not largely consumed as soy protein isolate – the form given to the Illinois prisoners as food.
Soy is linked with autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism and the development of goiter and a slew of other issues which negatively affect the endocrine and reproductive systems in particular. Indeed, recent research has indicated that soy lowers sperm count and the FDA lists close to 300 studies illustrating the negative effects of soy.
Surely enough, consuming upwards of 100 grams of soy each day started to have deleterious effects on the men. They suffered from myriad gastrointestinal, cognitive, emotional and endocrine distress and other symptoms of consumption of toxic levels of soy. In 2008, prisoners began contacting the Weston A. Price Foundation – a not-for-profit that champions real food – detailing serious health effects of the soy-centered diet. They suffered from diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heart palpitations, acne, insomnia, anxiety, depression and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Of course, cost-cutting measures didn’t end in Illinois prisons; rather, a pilot lunch program serves a similar diet to young children. Again, soy protein replaces meats, cheeses and chicken. A soy-based diet is particularly dangerous for young children whose immune, endocrine and reproductive systems are still developing.
The Political Connection: Rod Blagojevich and Archer Daniels Midland
In 2002, Rod Blagojevich succeeded George Ryan as governor Illinois as the first democrat to be elected governor of Illinois since 1972. Blagojevich has since earned another first in Illinois politics: Rod Blagojevich is the first governor in the State of Illinois to be impeached. While Blagojevich’s campaign promised an end to controversy, controversies littered his tenure as Illinois governor. Since 2005, Blagojevich has been the subject of more than a dozen federal investigations that include fraud. In a callous decision, Blagojevich even threatened to revoke funding for a children’s hospital after its CEO refused to contribute $50,000 to Blagojevich’s gubernatorial campaign. He also owns the dubious honor of offering to sell President Obama’s vacated senate seat to the highest bidder.
Among the many who contributed to Blagojevich and reaped the rewards of his peculiar sense of ethics was Archer Daniels Midland – one of the agricultural industry’s giants. Archer Daniels Midland is a leader in ethanol production (think GMO corn), wheat and, of course, soy. They spearheaded the inclusion of high fructose corn syrup into beverages and manufacture several soy-based meat substitutes.
Of course, Archer Daniels Midland is not unknown to controversy itself having been the subject of investigation by the Department of Justice in which its senior executives were indicted on federal charges related to price fixing. Indeed, three of the executives were sentenced to prison while the company was fined $100 million. Archer Daniels Midland, despite the lip service the company gives to sustainability on its website, has been the target of multiple federal lawsuits concerning air pollution and is listed as #2 among the top 100 corporate air polluters in the United States – ultimately responsible for nearly 13 million pounds of toxic air releases.
Archer Daniels Midland heavily contributed to Blagojevich’s campaign and is, incidentally, one of the top 100 biggest contributors to political campaigns according to Open Secrets a watchdog that allows the general public to see who is putting money into the pockets of American politicians (check out Archer Daniels Midland’s profile). Summarily, Archer Daniels Midland became the primary supplier of soy-based products and meat substitutes to the Illinois prison system.
Action on Behalf of Sickened Men
The Weston A. Price Foundation has hired an attorney to begin legal recourse on behalf of the many Illinois inmates sickened by the soy-based diet that lined the pockets of Archer Daniels Midland and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. The suit also seeks an injunction against the continued use of the soy-based prison diet. Should such an injunction be granted, it would represent a critical aspect in the fight against pursuing a similar soy-based diet in other governmental institutions like public schools. Intentionally serving food that consistently sickens prisoners is negligent at best and inordinately cruel. Everyone deserves wholesome food.
What to Do Next
If you recognize that 1) no one deserves to be sickened by the food they eat and 2) that the continued allowance of a clearly toxic diet opens the floodgate for that toxic diet to be instituted elsewhere please consider further action.
- Share this post and spread the word.
- Visit the Weston A. Price Foundation for more information: Are Children Next Targets for Toxic Meals?
- Write a letter to Eric Holder, Attorney General and Patrick Fitzgerald, Special Counsel to the US Department of Justice (View Sample Letters).