MONTROSE – During his trek along U.S. Highway 50, legendary newsman Tom Brokaw stopped to film in Montrose last week, as he tries to capture the face of a changing America for a TV documentary.
The new show is titled “Tom Brokaw Presents American Character Along Highway 50,” and is scheduled to air next year.
Brokaw and his crew spent the afternoon interviewing Jeff Downs on his farm, where he and his wife Jenika raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep and cattle for their company, Kinikin Heights Natural Foods.
Downs’s animals are raised in fresh pastures, are never given antibiotics or hormones, and are raised with patience and care, according to the farm’s website, kinikinfoods.com.
Downs, 27, grew up outside of Montrose and graduated from Ridgway High School in 2000. After earning a degree in animal science from California Polytechnic State University, he decided to search for more sustainable and humane practices for raising animals.
According to his website, after studying other operations, Downs decided to pursue the sustainable agricultural model for “its various benefits to your health, the animal’s welfare and the environment alike.”
Meat produced from grass-fed animals cooks faster because it’s leaner and it has reduced levels of saturated fats, he said.
“We’re convinced that after you try our grass-fed products, you will be hooked on the healthy alternative to high fat, grain-fed meat,” he said.
As they strolled through a cow pasture followed closely by a film crew, Brokaw asked Downs about the quality of the meat produced at the farm.
Downs stated that his meat is very nutritious. “We try and let things happen naturally here,” he said. “We try not to force things.”
After the shoot, Brokaw explained that he and the USA Network decided to draw attention to how people from the rest of the country live, outside of New York and Washington, D.C. He has been on the road filming since March.
“In this economic downturn, we’re researching what it means to be an American,” Brokaw said. “Almost everyone we talked to are now realigning their lives, but not weakening, not complaining.”
The tour started in Chesapeake Bay, Md., where they interviewed crab fisherman, Brokaw said.
“There is enormous pressure from pollution on their way of life, and it’s going away,” he said.
After leaving Montrose, Brokaw and his crew were heading to Grand Junction where they will focus on Mesa County’s health care system, which has received national acclaim recently for its affordable and cutting edge programs. Brokaw will then continue to Nevada and other points west along the highway.
“American Character Along Highway 50” will air on the USA Network in January as a one-hour documentary special. Beginning in the spring, the network will air short vignettes from Brokaw’s travels, “Dispatches From the Road,” featuring the people and places he visited on his road trip.