Bread and water beats jail food


new swamp

Pig meat gives me bad dreams; I don’t eat it unless there’s nothing else. Philosopher and Animal Liberation author Peter Singer would tell me there is always something else, that “We are, quite literally, gambling with the future of our planet — for the sake of hamburgers.” And hot dogs. But Singer hangs out at Princeton, not in a swamp.

“Why didn’t you swipe soyburgers instead of swine meat?” Swamp Rabbit asked me again today, in the spirit if not the style of Singer. “Or a head of lettuce. How hard is it to steal lettuce, Odd Man?”

He’s still angry about having to split a pack of wieners with me on Saturday, when the temperature in these parts plunged to near zero. He was angry on Sunday, too, but the weather was better. Warm air flowed in so fast the whole swamp fogged up as the ice melted.

I woke up Sunday night — or dreamed I woke up — and saw dead people floating out of the fog toward my shack. One was my late Great Aunt Nan, who used to give me candies and warn me to stop being a bad boy. This time she issued her old warning in a ghostly tone. “Bread and water. That’s all they feed you in jail.”

Not true, I thought, recalling a piece last month in Truthdig by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges about Aramark Corporation, a Philadelphia-based professional services company that supplies food for inmates at 600 jails and prisons nationwide — food that, according to Hedges, sometimes isn’t fit for your dog to eat, or maybe even your rabbit:

…In February 2009 a Camden County, N.J., health report found that the Aramark-run kitchen in the county jail had “mice throughout kitchen and storage area.” Mouse droppings were discovered in butter. Several food items, including grits, chicken, rice and beef, were not stored at temperatures low enough to protect against contamination. Prisoners at the county jail in Santa Barbara, Calif., went on a hunger strike last summer to protest the Aramark food, and inmates at Bayside State Prison in New Jersey went on a hunger strike in October for the same reason…

I’ll stop there, in case you dear readers are about to dine. Hedges’ piece is reminiscent of passages from The Jungle and addresses some of the ways big corporations are cashing in on the fact that incarceration rates in the United States are the highest in the world.

Hedges is an unabashed foe of corporatism, so it’s no surprise he wrote a negative piece about Aramark. But I’m wondering why The Philadelphia Inquirer or some other prominent mainstream news entity hasn’t done an “objective” report on the many complaints about the kitchen facilities and jail food served up by this services giant, a Fortune 500 company that has its own high-rise office building in Philly and generates $12 billion a year in revenues.

Maybe I just answered my own question.

Footnote: See Prison Legal News for more on prison food services.

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2 Responses to Bread and water beats jail food

  1. robinhood63 says:

    “Maybe I just answered my own question.”
    Sadly, Aramark is a metaphor for the road the country has been heading down for the last 30-40 years.
    The rich get richer…
    And the poor need to shut up about how the rich get richer.

  2. Meg says:

    This broke my heart, and I simply can’t click that link for more information. I’m sure that whatever horrible shit is going on in prisons around the country, it’s magnified 100 fold here in Texas. (Coincidentally, as I was writing this, Steve called on his way to the chow hall. And of course I broke out in tears. He rarely eats the chow hall food specifically because of the topic of this post. But once in a while he’ll check it out. And as awful as that food is, it still pisses me off that inmates in Texas get a total of four meals between 4PM Friday and 4AM Monday.)

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