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Regional economic integration and local food: the case of Latvia during European Union accession

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Latvia's agriculture sector remains economically important despite 50 years of central Soviet planning as well as rapid reorientation to a market economy after independence in 1991 and accession into the European Union in 2004. At independence, many Latvians embraced a local organic farming movement which has evolved during an era of sweeping economic and socio-political change. This article synthesises the current theoretical discourse surrounding alternative food movements with empirical evidence derived from field research in Latvia. To examine how regional economic integration has impacted Latvia's organic movement, I highlight its institutional actors and support networks then examine movement opportunities and constraints. The Latvian example may inform organic movements elsewhere as they strive to develop and maintain sustainable alternative food systems within the framework of regional economic integration and/or trade liberalisation.

Keywords: European Union, Latvia, local food systems, organic farming, social movements, sustainable society, trade liberalisation, sustainability, sustainable development, EU accession, agriculture, regional economics

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