Consumer vs Producer Prepping

I burned myself last night. It’s a fairly extensive scalding of my main hand. I was trying something a little bit new with our Sunday roast. Slightly different pan, slightly different method. I don’t know where my head was, but I grabbed a 350 degree handle, with the expected results.  Thankfully I didn’t spill dinner and husband was able to finish things up and serve.

In my mind, dinner was excellent, it was a successful go at that method and my day or so of pain is well within the bounds of what I’m willing to pay to keep producing high quality meals for my family.  My brother’s comments were what sparked this post though.

“This is why you should just get the rotisserie chicken from the store. You spent 2 hours of your life, plus a perfectly good layer of skin to produce something that the grocery store makes more cheaply and just as tasty. ”

We definitely have two different versions of prepping. In his version, his time is valuable, and he specializes in certain skills, and those are his most valuable skills. All others, he would rather spend the money he makes buying the products from someone skilled (at least marginally) in the making of that product. Anything beyond the bare necessities is just not worth his time to improve upon. He’s what I call a consumer prepper.  His plan is to buy what he needs to survive. MRE’s, freeze dried, bulk purchases, etc. It’s certainly a valid way to prep. He IS going to be better off if something HTF and he has a pantry full of bought food, than his completely unprepared neighbors for instance.  It’s just not the kind of prepping I’m comfortable with.

I prefer to be a producer prepper.  I aim to make what I need with my own two hands. ‘Need’ of course must remain tightly defined, my time is not infinite. But food ranks pretty high up on the Need list. I figure if I can’t grow, harvest, store, prepare and cook my own food, what kind of prepper am I?  What better use could my time possibly go to, beyond feeding the people I love tasty wholesome vitamin packed food? This is literally the building blocks of life we’re talking here. Skills like baking, fermenting, and heating raw meat to a more edible state, they all keep me out of the frozen food aisles and more in control of what my family is eating. And this is not to say that it’s a woman’s skill set either. Far from it. These are important enough that husband is fluent in most of them too, in fact he bakes better than I do.

In reality of course most of us fall on a continuum between the two polars. Depending on the skill/product in question. We may make our bread but buy our pickles. Or smoke our own meats but purchase all the veggies. Where do you think you fall? Are you aiming to switch? Are you specializing in certain skills first?

- Calamity Jane

16 comments… add one

  • Lester July 30, 2013, 8:18 am

    At the moment, I am more of a minimalist consumer prepper if anything. I live in a small condominium so storage space is in very high demand, and I have nowhere to grow anything more than herbs on my patio…

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  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. July 30, 2013, 8:21 am

    Ouch! I think we’ve all had those ‘Now WHY did I do that?’ moments, hope you heal soon.

    I’m on your side, unless time expediency really requires ‘buy it cooked’. As you said, you gain experience learning how to cook it to YOUR taste, not the cook at the grocery store. I’ve noticed that most of the people who come down with stomach ailments get it from foods cooked outside their kitchen. Someone wasn’t using good hygiene (Lavase los manos – Wash your hands).

    My brother burned himself pretty badly flipping a hamburger, he got lazy and lifting paddie, just allowed it flop over, flipping grease on his off hand. I got burned many years ago with a large steam cooker at a company bar-b-que. It was lifted up unevenly and the steam shot out, burning my fingers. I didn’t drop it but I put it down ‘Really Quickly’. 2nd degree burns – not fun. Parts of my fingers still don’t have any feeling in them, due to nerve damage.

    Get better soon.

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  • Pineslayer July 30, 2013, 9:58 am

    I am striving to be a producer. Right now in the food dept. we are on the consumer side mostly. Everything else we are good to go. I am building up my gardens every year. My carrots and green onions are doing good, the lettuce and spinach got devoured by mice, voles, and a ground squirrel that paid the ultimate price after feasting. My dogs played tug-o-war with him. Snap peas are doing well and I am getting my Rhubarb going. Hope your hand heals up soon.

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  • Ray July 30, 2013, 10:11 am

    What’s wrong with society can be summed up thusly ; Need/want/easy/cheep/fast/painless. Please note that Duty, Honor , effort, dignity , and sacrifice are concepts no longer understood by most in Amerika. Perhaps your sibling will learn from your example.

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  • sput July 30, 2013, 10:35 am

    There is another way to look at things. My main preps are consumer based, but I also have producer preps.
    I have about 2 years worth of food — for the reason of spending most of that timespan concentrating on security, until the large portion of lowlifes die off.
    No nice rows of crops so visible, no smells of a slow cooked stew carried on the breeze for a mile or so, no smells of a Bar-B-Que, (goat, Deer, or dog), bringing in the zombies.
    What cooking needed will be done over a rocket stove or propane stove, bringing a pressure cooker up to heat, then popped into an insulated box to continue cooking. Water heated over a camp stove for beverages or dehydrated meals.
    Now I practice stealth gardening, edible flowers & weeds, with a few standard veggies hidden among them.
    Only after the area is safe will I break out the rototiller and put up a high producing garden.

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    • babycatcher July 31, 2013, 12:11 am

      I like the way you think! :)

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  • GoneWithTheWind July 30, 2013, 10:38 am

    I like to cook and I like homemade food. I also consider the precooked chicken at $4.99 to be one of the bargins available to us today. Very easy to use and can provide more then one meal in my household. After the SHTF I expect to take advantage of whatever is available to me to survive and thrive. Why wouldn’t I do that before the SHTF fan too? So I see nothing wrong with buying prepared food when it serves a purpose as I see nothing wrong with cooking a home cooked meal. I’m not sure the two ideas have to be mutually exclusive. Eat drink and be erry for tomorrow Obama may succeed in collapsing our economy.

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  • irishdutchuncle July 30, 2013, 10:54 am

    yeh, get better soon.

    I made a mental note a while back to add a couple “potholders” to my bugout bag. I should have made a written note, because it hasn’t happened yet…
    I used to keep a clean pair of welding gloves with my barbecue tools.

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  • Mike the Gardener July 30, 2013, 11:27 am

    I tend to do equally both. I have an extensively large garden and do a lot of dehydrating, canning and freezing of foods I grow. and on the other hand I also add to those preps with some purchased MRE’s, freeze dried foods and so on.

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  • Sean July 30, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Excellent points. I think the key takeaway is to be adaptive.

    My family is something of a hybrid. I grow a little food, but no where near enough to sustain us for long.

    We also do a lot of from scratch cooking, but in the event I do pickup a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the market, I save the carcas and make broth from it, which is usually frozen. I’m also found of saving those plastic shells they come in for various things.

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    • gat31 July 31, 2013, 12:43 am

      those plastic shells make excellent mini greenhouses for starting seeds just saying :)

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  • Still Getting Ready July 30, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Some people love having all the latest gadgets. Some people like the feeling of being able to do things ones’ self.

    The consumer prepper is a good way to go if the SHTF is a hurricane or an earthquake or a tsunami or a flood. The producer prepper is better if the SHTF is more TEOTWAWKI–a large-scale EMP or economic collapse or the Yellowstone volcano eruption or global thermonuclear war.

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  • Badger359 July 31, 2013, 1:18 pm

    Sorry to hear about the burn, I know how it feels. On the other issue I do both. There both good but have limitations to each. Doing both to a given point will enable you to maximize your caps. 65-75% of my preps is producing and the balance is consuming. My wife and I are always learning and expanding on skill sets an honing the one we have.

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  • Aaron July 31, 2013, 10:37 pm

    Being a producer is better for long term. You already know how to grow, harvest, prepare, store all your food. Someone that has bought a couple years worth of food is going to get half, to three quarters of the way through their food then go “oh, I guess I need to get more food!” They will most likely starve while they’re trying to figure out all the mistakes they will inevitably make. Those same mistakes you’ve already worked out before tshtf.

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  • Becca August 3, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Consumer prepping vs. Producer Prepping.
    Part of me figures something is better than nothing at all. Yet I do agree it’s better to figure out the how-to’s before tshtf and knowing how may mean the difference between life and death.
    I grow up out of town but my mom was consumer oriented all the way when it came to produce, butchering, etc. Mind you we can raised the meat, but we never home butchered.
    This fall we plan to butcher our own chickens, rabbits and goats. And the guys tell me that there will be a few deer in the freezer after deer season.
    So far my garden attempts have failed 2 years in a row! But I have learned to can pickled last summer and plan to do more in September. Plus I picked and frozen green beans this year from a friend’s over abundant crop.
    Still I feel I have a lot of things I need to learn to do and practice doing.

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  • izzy August 6, 2013, 5:56 pm

    Calamity, was it you who mentioned 1816, “the year without a summer”? (Thanks btw – I just read the book – really good.) The lack of reliable food storage, reliance on limited crops, and a purely local diet meant death for a lot of people in 1816. Your post got me thinking about the difference between then and now…

    I’m also in favor of doing all I can, learning all I can (at least you’ll have an idea of what it takes to do it, even if you can’t do it all yourself.) But any catastrophic event will also impair our ability to do things – because of lack of materials, severe weather, dislocation, stress, trauma, illness, sleeplessness…

    I choose to take advantage of amazing lightweight materials, even though I could carve something myself. Your family takes advantage of instant food that lasts for years, even if you could cook it from scratch.

    It’s good to know how they did it in the “good old days”, but take advantage of improvements. After all, technology is why catastrophes in the developed world aren’t life-ending for most people now (even though it does encourage people to think that a week’s worth of food is an outrageous amount to have on hand.)

    Also we forgot that a lot of “old-time” methods actually depended on a lot of people working together with decades and generations of experience. In the same way your brother depended on a chain store to cook his chicken, they often depended on pre-existing networks – and those can take a while to build.

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