Thirty-one years ago, a young man with no college degree and the restless mind of a tinkerer started an unusual meat-processing company. Eldon Roth’s Beef Products Inc. (BPI) bought tons of fatty scraps left over after cattle were carved into steaks and roasts. Roth concocted a way to use centrifuges to spin the fat away and quick-freeze the remaining meat into a pink pulp that made ground beef leaner when it was mixed in. He called it “lean finely textured beef.” McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Stores, Burger King, Kroger, and Taco Bell used it. Roth opened plants in Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska, employing about 1,500 workers. He was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame last fall in a ceremony that brought him to tears.