In the name of justice and constitutional law, Slate takes the plunge and samples three kinds of Nutraloaf, the loaflike baked slurry of various ingredients that fulfills nutritional requirements, can be eaten without silverware, and is somewhere between kinda and completely disgusting. The stuff has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, as prisoners contend that being forced to eat it is, in essence, cruel and unusual punishment.

To the credit of Slate, Arin Greenwood taste-tested a number of different recipes, not content to go through the experience a mere one horrible time:

I chose three test recipes that seemed representative of the various loaves served in prisons across the land: a vegan Nutraloaf from Illinois that is heavy on processed ingredients (and has been the subject of lawsuits); a meat recipe from California that favors fresh, natural ingredients (which has not been challenged in court); and the Nutraloaf from Vermont, the one most recently at issue before a court.

The verdicts? Surprisingly varied, although you do get to hear a mortgage broker say: “It’s what you imagine Alpo tastes like.” If you’re interested in doing your own tasting, be our guest: A commenter shared the recipe in an earlier Grinder post about this stuff.

See more articles