“It’s repulsive . . . it’s a little punishment block, not meant to eat,” said Tommy Lynn Lewis, a plaintiff in a Washington case.235 Plaintiff Wilfredo Rodriguez described the New York version as “hard, partially frozen, served in a bag” and added that “the cabbage is really smelly.”236 And, of course, the proliferation of lawsuits filed by prisoners speaks for itself.237 It has even been banned in several prisons.238 Nutraloaf did start out as punishment, after all.239
Opinions of non-prisoners
When the Vermont Supreme Court judged Nutraloaf recently, it made samples available in the courtroom so that members of the public could judge it also.240 Observer Aaron Lipman compared it to sawdust.241 Observer Peter Gill commented “at first I didn't think it was that bad,” however, “the aftertaste was not very good.”242 During proceedings one Justice commented “Counsel, I’ve eaten Nutraloaf. And it isn't tasty. But many things I’ve eaten aren't tasty.”243
Scott Simon, a broadcast personality with National Public Radio, had a chance to sample the Maryland recipe while on the air.244 He thought it smelled “a little bit like the food they serve in the elephant cage at the National Zoo,” but tasted “blander than bland.”245 Journalist Gregg Herrington considered the Washington recipe to be “just awful,” and added emphasis by pointing out that he “liked dorm food in college.”246 However, his bachelor colleague Tom Ryll asked for a second helping, and commented that he had cooked “a whole lot worse than that from leftovers.”247
One journalist had the idea of feeding Nutraloaf to elite culinary students, presenting it as a hot new trend.248 One of the students judged it to be “sticky and strange.”249 Another noted that “texture is really odd, and the flavor is super-bland.”250 After the tastings the reporter revealed the true nature of the recipe, and the students finally became bold enough to describe it as disgusting.251 One commented “it’s definitely punishment. I wouldn’t give it to the dog.”252 Another noted that “this would work as a good deterrent. I think this would be like ‘Scared Straight.’”253
Erik Kriss of the New York State Department of Correctional Services asserted that “the restricted diet tastes like most other nutritional bread. The fact that it is served 3 times per day is probably the most unappealing part of its use.”254 Dede Short of the Illinois Department of Corrections noted that the Nutraloaf has been “sampled by registered dietitians as well as facility staff,”255 so presumably it is not unpleasant enough to make people quit their jobs.
Journalist Arin Greenwood had a different reason to be displeased after sampling Nutraloaf.256 “I recently spent $15 on a nearly identical dish at a vegan cafe in New York—and it didn't even have raisins.”257