Subject: An Iron Fish: the Mark of Genius
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Monday, 18 May 2015 00:24:51 +0100
To: Oliver Kemp, Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

If you ever get into an argument about what genius means, then direct them to this post, because *this* will show you what practical genius looks like.

the problem:

Cambodia has a problem.

It’s a lovely country in the far East & the people are able to feed themselves on very little money. However, that means constant white rice with a little fish but no red meat. As a result the people are anaemic (deficient in iron).

The women suffer from tiredness & headaches whilst the children are small & weak with slow minds. Pregnancy is especially dangerous; the women often haemorrhage (severe blood loss) which can lead to loss of baby, and sometimes the mother also.

That is a common problem the world over.

the normal fix:

A course of “iron tablets”

Do they work?


So what’s the problem?

They are expensive for poor folks, and the side effects are horrible.

Side effects? What side effects?

Stomach upset/pain, constipation or diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Oh, and black stools (faeces). Or, if you take it in liquid form, black teeth.


This is where Canadian science graduate Dr Christopher Charles enters the picture. He became aware of the problem & was hunting for a fix.

Christopher discovered that cooking in cast iron pots increased the iron content of food. He also knew that fish are a symbol of luck in Cambodian culture (and, of course, they eat them). He put it all together with a dollop of practical genius & came up with (ta da!) The Lucky Iron Fish:-

The Lucky Iron Fish is modelled on a species commonly eaten in Cambodia, and made from reclaimed iron

The fish is easily made locally from melted-down bits of scrap iron. It is about 3in (7.6 cm) long and weighs about 200g (7.1 oz). It is put once each day for 10 minutes in one of the cooking pots that is boiling the meal. That’s long enough to allow a little iron to leach out of the Iron Fish into the meal. Next, they need to add a little lemon juice (important for absorption of iron in the body).

Dr Charles’s calculations are that this process should--by itself--supply 75% of the daily recommended intake of iron for an adult (even more for a child). Each fish should last for 5 years. Current trials on several hundred villagers in one province in Cambodia have showed that nearly half of those who took part were no longer anaemic after 12 months. Success.

What is very obvious is that this has succeeded because folks like their smiling fish, it’s simple to use & they believe that it will help (plus it does):