Producer vs Consumer

As I quickly approach my 48th birthday, one label that I intensely dislike is that of a ‘consumer’.  Just about every news story refers to people as consumers, which on reflection, is quite apt in the consumer culture that we are currently burdened with.  I must admit that back before 2006, I was indeed a consumer with emphasis on consume!

That label may be fitting for some and my behaviours in the past, however, as I was pottering around the garden over the weekend, I thought to myself, that I have transformed from consumer to producer/consumer with emphasis on producer!

As I was walking around, I looked and thought about the things that I produce.  I produce food for my family from my fruit trees and vegetable garden from water that I have harvested.  I produce electricity from the Sun with both my grid-tied and stand-alone solar PV system.  I produce hot-water from the Sun.  I produce cheese from milk, bread from flour, eggs from kitchen scraps, and jam from fruit.  I produce beer from malt, hops and yeast.  I produce soap from vegetable oils.  I produce fertile soil from garden waste, and worm castings from coffee grounds.

But most of all, I believe that I produce joy.  Joy from living a simple and sustainable lifestyle for me, my family, and increasingly, my community.  It feels great to be a producer as opposed to a consumer.  I still consume, but when I do it is a basic grade of products from which I can produce something better and more sophisticated.   Being a producer means that I have learnt skills and wisdom that I would have otherwise ignored and left forgotten to generations long gone.  To be a producer is to reclaim these lost skills and to pass them on to our offspring and friends or anyone who wants to learn.

So my question to you all is, what do you produce, fellow producers?  How do you feel when you produce vs when you consume?


  1. says

    I also get irked being referred to as a consumer!
    I produce herbs in my herb garden, rocket, mint, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and basil.
    I produce home cooked meals 3 times a day , mostly from scratch.
    I produce yoghurt and homemade yoghurt and bread.
    I also produce clothing and home furnishings and accessories from sewing and knitting projects.
    And I am in the process of producing a happy sustainable family!

  2. Anonymous says

    I find I experience less anxiety as a producer than as a consumer. Being able to absorb myself in pottering in the garden, cooking slowly, making and mending things is relaxing and therapeutic, a great way to put work and other life stresses out of my mind. When consumption was upper most in my mind I carried a lot more stress and anxiety with me. Driving all weekend checking prices, products, looking for parking and endless walking. Then there was the credit card bill at the end of the shopping expedition. But one had to keep up with the ‘latest’, the ‘best’ and what the social circle considered the essentials of life – big car, big house, gadgets, clothes and on and on. Glad that is behind me now. I am much more content with myself and life.

  3. Andrew says

    We produce eggs and vegies, we harvest our rainwater, we have solar hot water and as of this coming weekend (if the rain doesn’t wash the guys off the roof !) we will produce electricity from the sun. We buy very little processed food, preferring just basic ingredients that we can combine with stuff from the garden. Whenever possible, we buy local, in-season produce at the local farmers market. I fish and have been known to remove the odd bunny from the environment. In the past, I have grown and processed chooks, ducks, sheep and a bullock or two.

    We occasionally dabble in making our own bread, but we regularly make our own pasta. We haven’t yet done the cheese or soap.

    We compost like mad and after reading a post on here, we have recently started doing the rounds of the local coffee shops, adding the grounds to the compost or straight into the garden in small doses. We gather seaweed from the beach to combine with comfrey from the garden and make our own liquid fertilizer.

    We have a greywater system that sends all our shower water onto the garden, keeping fruit trees, ornamental and shelter belt trees healthy.

    Our ornamental fishpond is a recycled 8-person spa, filled by rainwater and the pump which drives the fountain to keep the water from becoming stagnant is powered by its own PV panel.

    The ornamental and shelter-belt plants, even if they don’t all produce food for us, produce food and shelter for the native birds and lock up lots of carbon. They also improve the amenity of the block, which is also important in keeping the soul nourished.

    While we all enjoy the fruits of our labours, one thing I think we have produced, which is probably far more important, are two young people (our kids) who are in touch with nature and the weather, have appreciation for what goes into making the food they eat, who are aware of seasonality in foods and of minimising their footprints on the environment.

  4. says

    We produce our own detergent, shampoo/conditioner, bread, veggies (some), fruit (some). We are hoping to get chickens and bees later this year and our new veggie beds will be up and running for spring. We have solar for electricity and a water tank soon to go in to harvest water.
    I prefer to reuse or mend before buying new. I’m also very open to receiving hand me downs. I’ve never bought a mobile phone or ipod as so many people just throw these outs. Doesnt bother me if we dont have the latest and greatest.
    I hate going out to shopping malls – it all seems so mindless and I find the “cheap” items upsetting. I’m sure most people dont think about what it all really costs.

  5. says

    I produce veggies, bread, (some) meat, eggs and I harvest wood and rain and that’s about it for the moment. What I don’t produce I use as little as possible. I like to reuse as much as possible by mending or redesigning or pulling it apart and using the pieces. I don’t go ‘shopping’ – never saw the point in wandering around looking for stuff to buy. When I do shop I shop with focus – in and out! I missed the shopping gene.

  6. says

    We produce our own meat, soap, detergent and vegetables. Going to the shops now is easier now, we only buy what we need. I started out saying , ‘Let’s wait a month and see if we really do need to buy that thing ‘- and more often than not , the case was that we did not need it.
    When I do buy something for myself, it is with reverence and appreciation. It is also something I look after well.
    The only thing that makes me sad is watching other people on the treadmill and knowing that they do not know why they feel dissatisfied and unhappy.

  7. Anonymous says

    I am a producer and come from generations of producers. We grow fruit,vegetables and our own meat. We harvest water, the sun for electricity and gather wood for heating. We make cleaning products, hand and body lotions, preserves and cook from scratch. We use what we have until it becomes unusable, repair things when they break, and re-use/recycle what we can. Like Sarah, shopping doesn’t have the appeal it had in my past. I feel sufficient and don’t have the wants I used to have. My mind and spare time is pre-occupied with with what, when, how I can grow, use, make or reduce. I’m content and feel good about myself. My consumer friends think I’m mad but I think they actually envy me!

  8. Sarah says

    Love it. I am with you on a lot of these things. I haven’t made cheese yet but I have chickens and a big garden. What I find is that I just don’t want stuff any more. I go shopping but there is nothing I really want or need except a few books. Sometimes I buy a new tool or something like that but that is it. Doesn’t help the world economy much 😉

  9. Kathy P. says

    I’m certainly not as far along as you but the veggie garden is my biggest producer. Just put in 50 everbearing strawberry plants a couple weeks ago and have plans for more fruit in the future. I’m also into making my own yogurt (though not from “homegrown” milk)and may start experimenting with cheese. Unfortunately, none of this seems to have caught on in my area; even the local foodies seem to be into paying other people to make gourmet convenience foods and grow their produce for them. There’s very little to encourage people to grow their own.

    The book “Radical Homemakers” talks about this very concept. It profiles a number of individuals and families who voluntarily dropped out of the ratrace and are living on lots less by making their home a center of production instead of consumption.

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