February 27, 2018

Maryn McKenna

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed health and food policy journalist and Brandeis University Senior Fellow MARYN MCKENNA for a discussion of her latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats. She will be joined in conversation by UMass Lowell philosophy professor NICHOLAS EVANS.


This eye-opening exposé documents how antibiotics transformed chicken from local delicacy to industrial commodity—and human health threat—uncovering the ways we can make America's favorite meat safer again. 

What you eat matters—for your health, for the environment, and for future generations. In this riveting investigative narrative, McKenna dives deep into the world of modern agriculture by way of chicken: from the farm where it's raised directly to your dinner table. Consumed more than any other meat in the United States, chicken is emblematic of today's mass food-processing practices and their profound influence on our lives and health. Tracing its meteoric rise from scarce treat to ubiquitous global commodity, McKenna reveals the astounding role of antibiotics in industrial farming, documenting how and why "wonder drugs" revolutionized the way the world eats—and not necessarily for the better. Rich with scientific, historical, and cultural insights, this spellbinding cautionary tale shines a light on one of America's favorite foods—and shows us the way to safer, healthier eating for ourselves and our children.

About Author(s)

Maryn McKenna is an award-winning journalist and the author of two critically acclaimed books, Superbug and Beating Back the Devil. She writes for WiredNational GeographicScientific AmericanSlateNatureThe Atlantic, the GuardianNational Geographic magazine's online science salon Phenomena, and others. She is a senior fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

Nicholas Evans is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Massachusetts Lowell. His area of research is the dual-use dilemma, which arises in the context of scientific research that has both benevolent and harmful applications.