A small iron fish, looking more than a piece of decoration than a kitchen utensil, may be the way to cure one the world’s biggest health problems.
While spending time in Cambodia, Dr. Christopher Charles, a graduate from the University of Guelph, developed The Lucky Iron Fish as a way to tackle iron deficiency – and, so far, it has proven to be one very lucky fish indeed.
Everything is produced locally, from the fish to its packaging and global marketing, which has created new jobs – but more importantly, they claim anemia has been nearly wiped out in the test areas since the unusual kitchen utensil was given out.
‘I think I was a little bit shocked when I found out how positive the findings worked,’ Charles said in a promotional video.
‘In the test areas, anemia’s pretty much disappeared altogether, which is absolutely astounding.’
More than three billion people worldwide suffer from iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia, many of them in developing nations; often, these deficiencies are caused by diets low in iron – in the case of Cambodia, a diet based on fish and rice.
Cooking in cast iron pots has been proven to release iron into the meal, but they are heavy and people don’t like to use them – so another, easier solution had to be found.
Charles and his team came up with the fish shape through trial and error: initially, families were given an iron block to add to their cooking, but while they were well received, the blocks were used for anything but cooking.
Giving the iron a distinct shape changed matters – in Cambodian culture, the fish is a sign of good luck and the new design saw the fish-shaped utensil turn into a much more popular kitchen companion.
Using it is simple: just add it to broth-based meals or water and cook it for ten minutes before fishing it out and cleaning it.
As with any iron, rust may develop if it’s not fully dry before being put away – if that happens, simply cleaning it again or brushing off the rust will make the fish look like new.
To support the project, or get a Lucky Iron Fish for yourself, visit the project’s website; for every fish bought, a family in Cambodia will receive one for free.