Big event serves as way to better educate public.

Beef Empire Days, one of the region's more anticipated annual events, gets up and running this week.

As always, those who partake in the fun will receive a healthy serving of information on everything beef, from how the product makes its way from the field to the fork, to its role in healthy eating.

And at a time so much emphasis has been placed on poor nutrition and a lack of exercise contributing to Americans' ballooning waistlines, it's always encouraging to hear food-related success stories.

Consider the example set by the Kansas Beef Endurance Team, a group of athletes from across the Sunflower State who promote healthy lifestyles by combining physical activity and a nutrient-rich diet full of lean meats, especially beef.

The group participates in races and other events in spreading the good news about beef. They know red meat often gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat and cholesterol, even though the fat content of beef varies greatly by cut and how it's prepared.

Lean beef also has notable health benefits in being loaded with essential nutrients, including zinc, iron, phosphorus and B-complex vitamins. When consumed in moderation, it's an outstanding source of protein.

Such details represent the kind of information that goes a long way in helping consumers better appreciate beef.

Unfortunately, a lean beef product turned out by the Beef Products, Inc., facility at Holcomb and elsewhere in the nation was targeted by a misguided campaign of misinformation labeling it as undesirable, or somehow unhealthy.

The uproar over the lean beef trimmings unfairly dubbed "pink slime" contributed to the local plant closing, and more than 230 local BPI employees losing their jobs.

The disturbing development drove home the importance of educating consumers on facts surrounding beef production, a business that's long helped fuel the southwest Kansas economy.

Expect such educational offerings during Beef Empire Days, an event not only entertaining for all ages, but also key in helping children and adults better understand a product that deserves a place on the plate of most anyone interested in a healthy diet.