⟨ Misc ⟩

Lucky Iron Fish

This little fish saves lives.

Words / Jas Tse
Translation / Iris Heung

這一小尾魚,起初看到時沒想過原來是能改善柬埔寨人健康的恩物。在柬埔寨,缺鐵造成貧血與兒童認知障礙,嚴重者更會死亡,但大部人也無法負擔購買營養劑或醫療的高昂費用,問題存在著卻也無法解決的無奈。

在加拿大一所大學任研究員的Christopher Charles,意識到其嚴重性並是首位提出有效方法的人。他發現,若烹調時將鐵塊放到鍋裡,熱能可引致鐵塊釋放出60至300毫克生物可利用的鐵質,可被食物和水吸收,一次釋出的比一個人每日建議攝取量的鐵質更多,所以只要每天有一頓飯加入鐵塊烹煮,就能提高整個家庭的鐵質吸收,做法簡單而成本低廉。然而,把鐵塊和食物放在一起煮,總覺有點不妥。有了好方法卻無法說服人,這便造就Lucky Iron Fish的誕生。

想要幫忙解決這大難題的Lucky Iron Fish團隊,在了解柬埔寨文化時留意到這種食物 —— Kantrop魚。它是當地主食,也有好運的象徵。於是他們把鐵塊打磨成Kantrop魚的模樣,只手心大小的一尾魚,形象變換了,就平易近人多了。

只要在料理前,以肥皂、清水和軟布清洗鐵魚,另在煲裡放一公升水,加二至三滴檸檬汁或其他酸性食材,然後把鐵魚放入,開火煮十分鐘後拿出,接著跟日常程序料理就可以了。保存方法也簡單,清洗後瀝乾並放在乾爽處,一尾鐵魚可這樣重複用上五年。燉菜或煮湯時,把小鐵魚丟進鍋裡便能熬出一桌健康料理,照料家人。而現在每買一尾鐵魚,Lucky Iron Fish團隊便會為有需要的家庭送上一尾鐵魚呢!

At first sight, little would people expect this little fish to be so instrumental in guarding the health of many Cambodians, who suffer from different degrees of anemia and children’s cognitive impairments caused by iron deficiency. In some serious cases, iron deficiency can even be fatal. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford the nutrient supplements or the hefty medical bills to improve the situation, so the problem has remained unsolved for years.

When Canadian science graduate Christopher Charles discovered the important role of iron has to the public health in Cambodia, he became the first one to come up with an effective idea to turn around the situation. He realized that by adding a lump of iron to food while cooking, the heat would help to release between 60 and 300 milligrams of bioavailable iron from the metal block, which would subsequently get absorbed into the food or water. The amount is more than what is recommended for one person a day. It is undoubtedly a cost-effective method to provide a whole family with a substantial amount of iron. The only problem was, cooking with a block of iron is rather unappetizing — the Lucky Iron Fish was therefore created to get over the hurdle.

When the newly formed Lucky Iron Fish team started troubleshooting by understanding the Cambodian culture, they ran into the kantrop fish; a staple in the local diet, as well as a symbol of luck. The team therefore tried to carve the small blocks of iron into palm-sized kantrop fish to give them a friendlier look.

The Lucky Iron Fish is simple to use: first, wash it with soap and water using a soft towel, then put it into a pot of 1 liter water with a couple drops of lemon juice (or other acidic ingredients) and cook for 10 minutes before removing the iron fish from the pot. After that, the iron-rich water is ready to be used for usual cooking. Wash the iron fish after using and store it in dry places, in this way, it can be reused for up to five years. A tool as small as this iron fish can make any stew or soup healthier. Now, for every purchase of the iron fish you make, the Lucky Iron Fish team will donate one iron fish for a family in need!