Ramen is a hot commodity in prisons around the country—and it has nothing to do with Kylie Jenner. According to research conducted by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona who interviewed more than 60 prisoners and has studied prisons nationwide, instant noodles have surpassed cigarettes as the most valuable commodity in incarcerated populations in the United States.
"[Ramen] is easy to get and it's high in calories," Gibson-Light told the Guardian. "A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don't have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular."
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This shift from carcinogens to carbs in American prisons probably won't come as a surprise to anyone who's been following the ongoing debate over utilizing food as punishment in our criminal justice system. And while some prisoners subsist for years on end consuming bland or processed food products, other states have augmented their prison food programs to include inmate-farmed vegetable gardens that are not only a nutritious "cost-effective food source" that "are seen as a way to save money on healthcare for prisoners struggling with diabetes, hypertension, and other ailments," but are also breakthrough socialization and skill-building opportunities for inmates.