When considering food, the main point is to have some, not to produce it through this or that process.
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 68 to 71 (in French)
March 14th, 1847
“Let cattle breeders produce meat but they should grant us the freedom to produce some through an axe, a needle, a feather or a hammer in the same way that we produce gold, coffee and tea”. This explanation following immediately today’s quote shows the deep misunderstanding of protectionists when it comes to international trade. An argument that they believe is decisive in restricting imports is that they suppress “national” labour. However, unless they are acting with philanthropy, foreigners expect to receive something in exchange for the goods they provide. That “something” will obviously translate in “national” labour, thus it is not necessary to implement a restrictive policy on international trade for it to balance itself (albeit through capital transfers if required).
The extension of the reported quote is particularly appealing to me because it is announcing the key idea expressed by David Friedman when he compares commerce to innovation by using the allegory of the San Francisco harbour which is a “machine that turns corn into automobiles”.