If you ever had any doubt, "Slow Food in the Heartland" by Kurt Michael Friese (Ice Cube Press, North Liberty, Iowa, $26.95, 141 pages) should assure you that we live in the epicenter of the local-food movement. Friese's new book shares the stories of farmers, producers, chefs and home cooks with recipes to illuminate our area's culinary landscape. This is both travelogue and cookbook, as it covers Iowa, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Illinois.

Friese, a chef and owner with his wife, Kim McWane Friese, of the Devotay restaurant in Iowa City, is founder of Iowa's Slow Food convivium and a member of the national Slow Food Board.

This worldwide organization, which originated in Italy, seeks to connect food and pleasure with social and environmental responsibility through publications and events. Friese is editor-in-chief of the seasonal local food magazine Edible Iowa River Valley and a regular contributor to Grist.org and Gather.com.

Two of our own local-food talents, Lucia Watson of Lucia's restaurant and Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of "The Splendid Table" radio show and author of "How to Eat Supper," share the spotlight with a wide range of local-food advocates, from the Leopold Bros. brewery in Ann Arbor, Mich., to Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa.

Wander with Friese through apple farms, bison ranches, bakeries, fisheries, dairies, distilleries, farm markets, restaurants and community, religious and educational organizations -- all committed to great-tasting, sustainable fare.

Better yet, sit down and enjoy a meal inspired by the recipes, such as a wild rice dressing from the White Earth Reservation Land Recovery Project. Nothing is quite so comforting as the flavors of home.

Beth Dooley is a Minneapolis author.