How to Be a Producer in a Nation of Consumers

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Author of Lifestyles of the Flat Broke and Resilient and creator of Build a Better Pantry on a Budget

In this world, there are two kinds of people. You can be a consumer or you can be a producer.

Neither one is inherently good or bad – these are just descriptive terms. You can produce 100% of your own food and have a terrible heart, one that rejoices in the misfortune of others. You can never produce a single thing in your whole life and be kind and generous. This article isn’t meant to demonize consumers or set producers up on a pedestal.

Really, most of us are a combination of each type. But we should strive to tip the balance toward producing whenever possible because when bad things happen to an economy, when long-term disasters strike, and when everything changes, it is the producers who survive.

I talk about consumers and producers a lot, and recently a person in the comments asked me to clarify the concepts and share some ideas on how to become a producer.

So…here’s what it means to be a consumer or a producer.

The Consumer

Consumers are just what they sound like – people who consume. They purchase things they did not make, eat things they did not cook, and use up resources without replacement.

The terrifying thing is that we have become a nation of consumers who produce hardly anything.

Even our workforce these days rarely produces. The workforce cleans up after others, provides services, and spends their days in cubicles behind keyboards. Most of them do not go home after a long day at work having created something of value. They go home exhausted after a day of wrangling people or data, too tired to have a vegetable garden or perform productive tasks.

Many Americans have no productive skills because this is no longer a thing that is prized in our society. Jobs in the trades sit empty. Young people these days choose to go to college to learn about literature or social justice or the theories of business instead of becoming part of the skilled labor force. Unfortunately, jobs matching these educational paths can be hard-won and many people with graduate-level degrees serve fast food to people who don’t have the time or the inclination to cook. Forbes says that 44% of recent college graduates work in jobs that don’t require the degree they just got deeply in debt to obtain.

The Producer

Producers are also just what they sound like: people who produce things. A producer is a person who grows something, raises something, creates something, repairs something, builds something…you get the idea.

Producers may have jobs in the trades. They may work in factories and machine shops. They may work in agriculture. They may work in the medical field. And not all producers have jobs that are productive. But they’ll come home and produce something.

These are the people who have gardens, who homestead, who raise backyard chickens, who can knit a sweater, repair the plumbing, change their own oil, and cook from scratch. Contrary to popular belief, a producer doesn’t have to live rurally and raise every bite of food their family eats. It’s a mindset that no matter where they are, they can be self-reliant and independent people.

Being a producer is about having skills that can be applied to your daily life. It’s about not having to call someone to help every time something requires repair or mending. It’s about being able to solve problems creatively and independently. It’s about being able to meet needs without depending on others.

Unfortunately, we have become a nation of consumers.

It’s a very dangerous tipping point when you can look around and see that the majority of people around you are consumers who produce nothing. And it’s dangerous on a national level.

If most of our food comes from China (whether to be grown or processed), what will we do if that food is no longer available?

If most of our agricultural workers are here only seasonally, what happens if they can no longer come?

If most of the items we work all day long to be able to afford to consume are made someplace else, what are we going to do if we’re suddenly isolated from the rest of the world?

Imagine the difference it would be if the only things that could be purchased had to be made from start to finish right here by people with the skills to do so. And to narrow it even more, what if the items had to be produced locally, within 20 miles due to transport difficulties?

If we could only consume what we produce here in the United States, we’d suddenly be looking at a terrible imbalance. There would not be enough for everyone. Not enough food. Not enough fuel. Not enough heat. Not enough clothing. And all the electronics and gadgets and designer items and cheap sweatshop products people think they have to have would be no more – imagine the rude awakening.

We’re going to be finding out about this the hard way, as our supply chain continues to deteriorate as the economy continues to suffer, and as we receive fewer and fewer imports like the ones on this list that used to come regularly from China.

And to put a finer point on it, a lot of people these days don’t even produce the money it takes to buy the things that others produce.

How can you become a producer in a nation of consumers?

Becoming a producer is easier than you might think. You don’t have to suddenly grow all your own vegetables and raise meat chickens on the patio of your townhouse to do it.

A lot of this is in your head.

Before you go to purchase something, think about it. Is it something you could make yourself? Is it something that will enhance your ability to produce? Or is it just a frivolous consumer item that will add no value to your life after the first couple of days? Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to buy frivolous things from time to time, but it shouldn’t be the majority of your purchases.

You must switch your mindset from buying to creating. From replacing to repairing. From shopping for entertainment to actually learning to enjoy life for entertainment. Unplug from your devices and get back out there in the real world and do the things that others have done for you in the past.

It will save you money, too.

Another thing about producing instead of consuming is that it’s going to save you a lot of money. For all things, you will spend either time or you will spend money.

Think about the dinner that you put on your table.

  • Will you spend time or money to produce the ingredients?
  • Will you spend time or money to prepare the ingredients and turn them into a meal?
  • Will you spend time or money to serve the food and clean up afterward?

You see? You have three opportunities there for production. Maybe you can grow the greens for the salad if not all the ingredients for the meal.  Maybe you can cook it from scratch instead of using things put together in a box. Maybe you can eat at home instead of going to a restaurant.

If you are spending your money to acquire something, you are paying for someone else’s time. There are no real shortcuts in this world. Someone, somewhere, spent the time to grow, assemble, and/or prepare that food you’re eating.

15 Ways to Produce the Things That Most People Consume

Below you’ll find a list of ways to produce. The list, of course, is not comprehensive. It’s merely a collection of ideas to get you started on your path to tipping the balance in your favor. And don’t think you have to do all these things at once.  Each thing you accomplish from this list can help you to proclaim, “I am a producer!”

  1. Make cleaning products. You don’t have to go buy outrageously expensive all-natural cleaning products when you can make your own out of simple, household basics. (Instructions here.)
  2. Grow food. It doesn’t have to be a huge garden. It can be tomatoes in the summer and microgreens or herbs in the windowsill in the winter. Here’s a huge self-reliance manifesto with links to more than 300 articles and books for doing just this.
  3. Sprout seeds. It’s a great way to add extra nutrients to your meals and so easy anyone can do it. (This website has everything you need to know about sprouting.)
  4. Unclog your sink. You don’t have to call a plumber for every little clog. Learn to unclog sinks with homemade drain cleaner and if that doesn’t work, try a plunger or a wire hanger snake. Last ditch, taking apart the pipe under your sink is far easier than you might expect.
  5. Learn some car maintenance. I’m not saying you have to be able to replace a cracked cylinder head, but you should at least be able to replace your spark plugs. It’s literally as easy as changing a light bulb, although today’s electronics on some newer cars can make things a bit more complicated.
  6. Use natural remedies. Now, I’m not one of those people who think you should never, ever go to the doctor or take medication – but there are many things you can treat at home with simple kitchen remedies. Illnesses like colds and cases of flu can be treated naturally, and so can ailments like vomiting and diarrhea. Here’s a must-have book loaded with remedies.
  7. Brew your own. You can get started brewing your own beer and wine at all sorts of facilities where they sell you the bottles and the ingredients. The staff will walk you through it and show you exactly what to do. After a few rounds of that, you may be ready for home brewing. Or skip all the instructions, grab a book, and DIY it from start to finish. Here are books on making beer, making wine, and making old-fashioned mead.
  8. Learn to mend. Some basic sewing skills are really useful, not so you can make all your own clothes Little House on the Prairie style, but so you can mend and rework items you already own. Learn how to patch a hole, mend a seam, and fix a hem. Once you’ve mastered these, you can move on to darning socks, fixing rips using basic stitches, and doing basic alterations on things that don’t fit.
  9. Cook from scratch. Just like in the example above, if you don’t spend your own time, you’re paying for someone else’s time. Learning to cook from scratch is really easy and you don’t have to create souffles and other fancy dishes. Start out simple with methods like roasting, sauteeing, and steaming then increase your skills from there. Here’s an article on The Lost Art of Scratch Cooking to get you started.
  10. Make your own bath products. From scrubs to moisturizing lotions right down to homemade soap, learning to create these at home gives you a lot of freedom. First of all, you know exactly what’s in them – no toxic ingredients allowed. You can adjust the fragrance to your liking with essential oils and you can learn skills that will be very valuable should we ever face a world where you can no longer buy soap at the store.
  11. Learn to preserve food. Break out the dehydrator and the canners and put back the foods you get on sale. Preserve the bounty in the summer and make delicious meals to last the whole year through. Here’s my own guide to canning and here’s one I recommend for dehydrating.
  12. Raise chickens. If your city allows it and if you have a backyard, you may be able to have a few chickens. Chickens are incredibly entertaining to watch and they can provide you with breakfast on a regular basis. They’re also a very efficient way to get rid of food that would normally be thrown away – all your fruit and vegetable scraps can go right to the girls. Here’s a primer on raising baby chicks and a guide to backyard chickens in the city.
  13. Hunt or forage. Any food that you can acquire can boost your productivity without spending a lot of money. Learning skills like hunting and foraging can be fun now and invaluable later. Recognizing things as edible that most folks would pass on by was literally the difference between life and death during Selco’s SHTF. Look for local books on foraging – the broader books are not as useful, as there will be vegetation that doesn’t grow where you live. To learn hunting skills, I find that the best way is to make friends with some people who already hunt and ask them to include you. Don’t try to pretend you know it all – use the opportunity to soak up their knowledge.
  14. Make things. Learning to craft things like furniture, needlework, garden structures, and other useful household items can really help you to become a producer. And the more you can upcycle from existing materials, the better off you’ll be.
  15. Repair things. We live in a world of planned obsolescence. So often, it is cheaper to replace things than to have them repaired…that is, unless you can repair it yourself. Stock up a library of DIY repair books and the next time something breaks, give fixing it a shot. (Bonus points if you can repair something McGuyver-style by using the things you have on hand.)

Right now, producing things is optional. We are spoiled for choice when we walk into a store. But there could come a day when your ability to produce could save your life – or at the very least make it a lot more pleasant.

So what can you produce?

When you look at the list above, what kinds of things do you feel you could produce? You don’t need to jump in and learn every single thing at the same time – just pick one and make a promise to yourself that you will learn the necessary skills to produce instead of consume.

What are some things I missed in the list above? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • My son recently made flour out of acorns. It was quite a long process. He then made some bread with the flour, which was sort of like cornbread. His family liked it.

    He explained that it was quite a long process, and conceded that if an entire tribe joined in the work it would be easier and produce more product. But, he enjoyed the process and has plans to do more next season.

    He is a McGyver sort of guy. He even made a “hot tub” out of an old bathtub.

  • Great article Daisy! I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I am the first to graduate from college in my family (I’m a teacher with a blue collar background and work ethic :-). I do lack a lot of skills and knowledge that my grandparents certainly had. I want to learn to can/preserve and fix certain things around my house. And I definitely want to pass these things onto my daughter! Thank you for your insight!

  • Being a homemaker for 40+ years has had its advantages in honing productivity skills through
    the years. Feels like being ahead of the game in many ways. We saved so much money with
    me being home. We are so much further ahead living carefully on one income and now retirement
    by doing the very things you highlight in your article, Daisy. Even haircuts. 🙂 So I can attest to the truthfulness of what you say.

    One thing I might add, in terms of “social justice,” is that the Middle Man takes a
    disproportionate share of profit in moving goods from poorer nations to so-called richer
    nations. Being more productive can revolutionize our culture away from the Brave New World
    mentality of elitism and a devil-may-care convenience orientation. Much can be said for the feelings of satisfaction and contentment when we’ve made things for ourselves and loved ones. That kind of joy is an anchor for the soul.

    • Hey Girl! I have also been a stay at home mom all of my adult life! I have been giving my hubby his haircuts for about 36 years, (been married 38), we have nearly always cooked from scratch, (hubby had to teach me to cook), I taught myself how to can (both water and pressure), make jelly, dehydrate foods, sew, (used to make some clothes for the kids but found buying clothes cheaper than making them) cross-stitch, paint, etc. It does seem as if the world (at least the prepping world) has come to appreciate these “old-fashioned” skills. I wish my Grandmother were still alive as she raised a daughter while Grandpa was off fighting in WWII. There is so much she could teach me! I know that woman could pinch a penny til it screamed and re-make clothes til the cows come home!! I could benefit from some of that! Still working on learning to garden with success. Have learned to shoot with a fair amount of accuracy. Also working on strength training and endurance. (Need to lose a few pounds!) Nice to know I am not the only stay-at-home mom of many years!!

  • i would like to encourage people who have skills to share them–teach others. for example, i offer free sewing lessons to people who live in washington county, oregon.

    home ec and industrial arts are not taught at most schools. help fill that gap. be a producer AND a teacher.

  • Daisy,

    Another excellent piece. When I was growing up my dad was an auto mechanic with a wife and 5 kids. He had to do things himself. He had friends that were in the trades and would teach him plumbing, electrical, cabinet making, etc. In turn would teach them to change their own oil and do basic maintenance work on their cars and trucks. We always had a great vegetable garden, and some of his friends were farmers. For things like beans and peas, they would call him and say “Bob, the harvesters have been through my fields so come help yourself to whatever they left behind. And boy do they miss a lot, especially around the edges of the fields and if there were structures in the field like power line towers, you could fill a bushel basket with produce from just what was left around a couple of towers! We didn’t have the room to raise our own chickens, but here again dad knew a poultry farmer and he would sell my dad a crate with 50 chickens jammed into it that were older chickens that were no longer productive layers. Dad would come home from work with the crate of live chickens and after dinner we would spend the night killing and processing the chickens for the freezer or for canning.

    One of my brothers has a great way of expressing it. He says “It doesn’t work when everyone is a service job. We can’t all make a living by delivering each others pizzas.”

  • I have loved sheep since I went to a farm camp at 8. Although I dont have a farm, yet, I have learned pretty much everything. I shear other peoples sheep in the spring. I can wash, spin, card and dye raw wool. Not to forget the twineing of two strands together! And I can knit pretty much anything. It something I am very proud of.

  • Yep moving to a developing nation I ended up learning a lot of those things on the list, especially cooking the food I miss from scratch, and that includes things like cheese and any type of flour but I also learned about fermenting and sprouting that way, got some chickens it’s not a bad as it seems but the west makes life faster and easier.

  • re: Item 14. I’m a serious believer in making and repairing things. I have one of the early cast iron Shopsmiths that were the largest selling multifunction home shop tool from 1947 to 1953. Arthur Godfrey gave one to his young radio show writer, named Andy Rooney (much later of “60 Minutes”) who wrote that it changed his life. Similarly, Mark Harmon’s character Jethro on NCIS has one in his home basement woodshop. I had the pleasure of meeting a gentlemen who was an early Shopsmith salesman and repair tech for Montgomery Ward. He told me that he built 7 houses using his Shopsmith. The tool came featured with an 8“ circular saw, a drill press, a wood lathe, a horizontal boring mill, and a 12“ diameter sanding disk. Over the years a lot of accessories were added — a jigsaw, belt sander, jointer, flex cable, band saw, etc, some of which needed a little increase in power from the original 1/2 hp motor, and an occasional direction-reversing switch. All easy to do.

    Should there be a long term power outage, that generation of Shopsmiths would be easy to convert to foot treadle power — with a couple of V-belts and something to use as a large flywheel (like the huge grindstone my grandfather used to sharpen his tools), just as home shop machines were outfitted in the pre-electric days of the 1890s and early 1900s.

    re: Item 15. I’ve been a longtime saver of used “stuff”to repurpose into all kinds of things. But I have a warning for anyone who lives alone and might ever have a hospital stay. I know of THREE different cases (including mine) where during such a hospital incarceration, the relatives broke into the dweller’s house, with the excuse of “helping.” Such “help” included paying a couple of bills that would have generated modest late fees, washing some clothes never intended to be worn again, throwing away back issues of both medical and financial newsletters that cost real money, reshuffling a house full of books so the owner had no idea where to find many of them, letting workman in to “help” but without watching them closely — which would have prevented them from committing burglary of tools, keys, and camping gear, plus hauling off to landfill twenty years of accumulated “stuff” the owner intended to repurpose — the kind of things that the item #15 linked Earl Proulx book “Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs & More: 1,001 Ingenious Ways to Use Common Household Items…” valued highly.

    In each case the pattern was the same. A single individual living alone, an extended hospital stay, relatives with vastly different ideas of how the dweller’s house “should” be organized, and no warning to or permission from the dweller — let alone any apology for the destruction created. I still haven’t figured out how to defend against this apparently recurring pattern. Preppers beware.


  • There is a very important skill that never gets mentioned…i don’t even know what to call it. It is what i call down functioning. It is a way of getting around the cheap manufacture and calculated obsolescence. For example. kitchen tongs are useless these days. They break very quickly. I have taken to buying the same design of tongs from the barbecue section. The design is the same but the construction is much stronger. instead of buying kitchen shears, buy workshop scizzors. buy a small commercial vehicle battery, or marine battery for your car. These usuallu have a cca rating and an ah rating. These have heavier plates that resist buckling and as such last longer. I have one of these in my car that i refilled with electrolyte after it ran out and it’s capacity dropped and it’s owner discarded it. I have used it for 4 years now and it is still going strong, even after being run down dead flat 4 times. The possibilities are endless.

  • Getting CERT classes would help minimize the need to consume resources like emergency medical treatment. Learning basic first aid will produce peace of mind.

  • If you run a search for the phrase SIDE HUSTLE on in the books section, you’ll find pages and pages of titles about ways to earn extra (or replacement) income, mostly through your own entrepreneurial efforts rather than hunting for a J.O.B.

    Depending on how much more you can earn, and how many hours it takes you, that will give you added insight into when DIY projects at home make economic sense for you versus when they just get in your way of earning worthwhile income.

    Everybody’s circumstances will be a little different, so this discussion is to give you an additional option.


  • Thanks Daisy for answering my questions. This is interesting. You are right….its the mindset that requires thinking outside of the box. In our society people are so far removed from what should be the most natural thing in the world. Which is to take care to KNOW how to do things. Anyway my family was in a situation where we had to buy a coat and boots for an 8 year old. We couldn’t do both so we decided to go ahead buy a coat for my eight year old and I would make her boots. The decision was based on the length of time of making coat or the boots. So that what we did. Big turning point for me because I realize I didnt really need to buy boots, I can make it! Mukluks is what I made reusing stuff around the house with a old deer skin leather coat. How about that!

    • I did the opposite- made a coat for the kid out of an old adults coat and bought the boots. Lol. Also crochet the hat and knitted the mittens.
      I hadn’t thought of hair cuts being a produced thing but I do that for DH and also for myself between (or instead of) salon cuts.
      I would like to temporarily take my head off and put it in my lap to cut my hair but haven’t figured out how to make that work.
      I also make herbal medicine and baskets as well as cook from scratch and can and dehydrate. I have a garden and learned how to ride a motorcycle among other things.
      I like an old treadle sewing machine better than the modern ones that don’t want to go thru thick fabric. Also the machine needles are not the same anymore. I found some hand sewing needle that were made in England in a rummage sale and snagged them.I like trying new things.

      • “I would like to temporarily take my head off and put it in my lap to cut my hair but haven’t figured out how to make that work.”

        I laughed out loud at this.

  • Hey, a home-county poster! I’m in the far west of the county and know how to sew, but I wanted to thank you for offering up skill training! And also to say what a delight it is to see like-minded individuals in my area and on my favorite forum. 🙂

  • Reducing the use of electronics to communicate and entertain is another way of getting back into 3-D reality. Use cash or write checks instead of using a card. Pay bills the old fashioned way, by mail. Call people on a real phone instead of texting or emailing them. Better yet, have people over for real visits! A simple meal break–coffee, lunch, tea, drinks, or a simple dinner. Or have people over to play cards or sit in the garden with lemonade.

    • If the government has their way cash will no longer be a legal currency for the USA…they are going to try to make ALL of us go digital so that they can control what EVERYONE spends their money on…
      Check out EO 14067, P. Biden signed last March.

  • Such a happy article, and a nice one to read. I came into it thinking “oh, I’m mostly a consumer these days since I have an office job processing insurance claims…” but actually after reading it I realized I’m a bit more of a producer than I thought.

    I can make bread with only wheat berries, water and maybe a little salt. I can make farmer cheese. I can mend things. I know where to find fruit and also other items for eating in my nearby area. I can indeed do some simple car repairs – oil change, spark plug replacement, mass airflow sensor cleaning, headlight and brakelight replacement. I learned to make my own pizza rather than spending bunches at the local delivery place. I can filter water if I have to, or make a solar still. I know how to lay a safe fire and cook over it. I can grow microgreens too, which are absolutely tasty. I can make a muscle rub salve that works better than tiger balm and I make all my own lip balm. I fill my own vitamin C capsules when they are out of them in the stores. I still have to get the raw materials for these things, but I can buy in bulk, which saves in cost and shipping. I make all my own holiday cards.

    So I guess I am a bit of a producer anyway, and to me the next question is – what am I going to learn next? What else can I produce in a pinch? Could I find a way to grow something, for instance, or make something new?

  • Great article, Daisy! My family is full of intellectuals who can make a nice Thanksgiving feast but that’s about it. They are lazy when it comes to learning new things that aren’t either intellectual or academic. (Although I did teach my sister how to brew kombucha and she taught her daughter)
    Here are my producer skills:
    -Brews (kombucha, beer …wine is on the to do list)
    -Sushi rolls
    -Canned Jams
    -Self defense
    -Licensed cosmetologist
    -Cook recipes with up to 20 ingredients and over 40 steps in under 3 hours : )

    to name a few.

    Thank you for all you do! 🙂

  • I watched a documentary on how fast fashion (ie from discount stores) is destroying landfills, overwhelming donation centers, and ruining budgets. The technology just isn’t there to recycle most of the discarded clothing. While I have always mended, I am guilty of throwing away good clothes, feeling good about donating them to Goodwill, etc. Now I have decided to make a quilt from things such as old jeans dye them different colors and make throws), get the yarn from outdated sweaters to reknit socks, and resole my older shoes (I learned from a youtube video), and when I donate, I give to a person who wants the clothing. My friend has a sister who takes in adult special needs people, and she will take discarded but good clothing and distribute it to people who can use them.

  • Atlas Shrugged should be read or re-read by everyone today. The power of the producers is what makes everything else possible. There is a way to put a stop to the insanity of 2020.

    • “The power of the producers is what makes everything else possible”

      in atlas shrugged the “producers” are defined as a tiny handful of people. everyone else is divided up into two camps – those who wish to live but cannot do so on their own and who therefore serve the sources of life as serfs (“I’m a proud serf of taggert transcontinental!”) and those who do not wish to live and who thus seek to kill the sources of life. for people like you and me, there’s just no room in that cult except as a serf.

      (alisa rosenbaum did indeed form a cult of “strikers” – you can read up on it. iirc she died in a new york city public charity hospital writing about how it was proper for cities to provide free end-of-life medical care ….)

  • Great article, Daisy. I’d like to try and add something if I may.

    When I took my last job (engineering) before retirement, the Personnel Manager told me, “It’s really hard to get someone to move here. Everybody wants to work in Chicago or New York or Atlanta. Nobody wants to live here in Podunk.”

    But now I’m retired. I live two miles outside a small village. We have a house and 10 acres. I’m sure we sleep better knowing the mortgage is paid off. We have a new car. Paid for. We have a garden. We have chickens. I have a respectable amount of handyman skills. We cook from scratch. We can. We own 500 canning jars.

    I don’t live on the 15th floor of a high-rise in Detroit. My property does not border an atomic power plant. Nor does it straddle the San Andreas Fault. And all this is a matter of CHOICE. The choices we made yesterday shaped the security we feel today.

    On the other hand, we never went on a cruise to the Bahamas. We’ve never owned a sailboat or a camper or a motorcycle. I’ve never seen Europe . . . except on business. These things, too, are all a matter of choice.

    “You should grow your own food,” the preppers lecture you. “I can’t do that,” you answer. “I live in a high-rise apartment with a tiny balcony.” My take is that the career decisions made yesterday determine how many degrees of freedom you have when you want to swing your arms today.

    And today’s choices determine how much wiggle room you’ll have tomorrow. Granted, small-town living can be boring. Debt, fear, and hunger are much more urbane and exciting.

  • First of all, Good site and lots of great commenters, However I have to disagree with some of this premise.

    This country can absolutely feed its entire population. If isolated then we wouldn’t be exporting either. Loss of exotic foods would be missed but are not necessary to life. Read up on the early American diet. People survived on very little variety.

    We can supply our energy needs for oil, gas, coal and natural gas. For heat we have those and wood.
    There is also limited solar and wind. Once again stop exporting and we have sufficient.

    I completely agree on the textile industry which was one of the first sold out to cheap slave labor as well as shoes. But I believe the ability exists to recover those capabilities, but would take years. So have plenty or have fabric and needed materials and skills — or ability to trade for such.

    Of course you are completely correct on technology which the world outsourced to China and other parts of Asia.

    My concern is we don’t minimize, but not overstate the issues to terrify people. And I understand that while “the country” can feed itself it doesn’t mean transport and distribution would be equitable. The more you can be “mostly sufficient in your region” the better for all.

  • I can do the usual gardening, canning, herbal remedies, sewing, etc but I really enjoy learning new things. This year, my neighbors have been teaching me to make wine and I found that the ECKraus website has a very good blog and question & answer section. They also sell brewing supplies but so does Amazon.

    We also repurposed an old A-frame swingset to make a second greenhouse. We needed it to be a lot taller so we put a bolt through each of the legs about 30 inches from the ground. Then we put a steel fencing T-post in each leg and the bolt stops it from going too far into the swingset leg. Then we zip-tied cow panel fencing to the sides. Next some wood strips will go on and then add plastic sheets all the way round. It has been really satisfying to make something useful from stuff we had on hand. My avocado tree will be happy in there too.

  • To a degree, we are all consumers and producers. Few people out there can truly be producers only, and that usually requires a drastic downsizing of ones life to the point of wearing deer skins, hunting primitively, living in a yurt or tee-pee, and no access to modern medical facilities.
    Some may have romantic ideas of such a lifestyle.
    I dont.

    There are things I can produce and things I cannot. But I have neighbors who can. We would trade skills and labor to get what we each need. That is the advantage of having a community of like minded people or people who just happen to live a similar lifestyle. Pre-2020, it was not unusual to see many gardens around here. Since COVID, I have seen a lot more gardens or ones double or triple in size. Canning was always common around here. Same thing with hunting. Helping out a neighbor to bring in and stack firewood is not uncommon. Goes faster and is easier with 4 sets of hands than 1.

    • “But I have neighbors who can. We would trade skills and labor to get what we each need”

      do any of them grow fabric and spin thread and weave cloth and make clothing? all the “prepper” sites I’ve ever seen seem to merely dabble in “self-sufficiency” and don’t seem to fully grasp what “self-sufficiency” would entail.

      • Guy up the road has sheep he sheers a few times a year.
        Not sure who he sells to, but be willing to bet the Amish do know how to spin yarn.
        Not sure where they get their cloth, but you are not going to find any tags on their clothing.

        Looking into getting Merino sheep ourselves next spring.

  • “most of us are a combination of each type”

    economically the most viable model is the banana republic – successful producers produce only one thing, and do it well, and use that to purchase and consume everything else.

    but in grid-down this model fails, because one must suddenly produce not just one thing well but many things passably well. most modern producers, no matter how productive, won’t be able to make such a transition.

    • And that is why many preppers try to be as flexible, and have more than one input/output as possible.
      And when they cannot produce something, they can and will look to others who can.

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