As I sat with Rich at a small table in the Provisions café, it became clear to me that this is a man in his element. As the commotion of the lunch-time crowd buzzed around us, Rich let me into his world, both inside and outside of the quaint little store that has become a mainstay in the Hamptons community.
When I asked Rich about how Provisions came to be what it is today, he stated that Provisions has evolved overtime in two ways. One, society’s view of healthy, organic food was, until pretty recently, somewhat denounced by the general public, associated only with a small niche that society deemed crunch-granola aka hippies. Thankfully, with the help of the larger chain health food stores, the concept has not only became de-stigmatized, it actually did a complete 180. Organic food is now mainstream and associated with affluence and status, making it more desirable. People want the best quality food their money can buy and word has spread that organic is the best. This shift in perspective has allowed health food stores, like Provisions, to become highly respected and essential within the community.
The second evolution has been the rise of year-round residents in the Hamptons, especially Sag Harbor. Provisions is open all year-round, fulfilling the need for both healthy groceries and a place to socialize, regardless of the season. Although summer attracts a whole new crew, Sag Harbor has quite the community of year round residents, lots of whom are Provisions regulars.
Upon my move to Sag Harbor last year, I instantly grasped the deep roots Provisions maintains in the Sag Harbor culture. Rich feels that the primary reason that Provisions is such a staple here is that it fulfills the need for interaction, serving as a warm and cozy meeting spot, all year round. There’s constant interaction among staff and customers as well, the staff is truly educated and passionate about what’s in the store and they’re always willing to share.
Provisions fulfills its commitment to the community by supplying the best quality, healthiest foods offered in a courteous and respectful manner: never any high pressure sales tactics. Open substantial hours seven days a week, Provisions goods are available to those who want it when they want it, and that is always the case. Rich and his team are constantly at trade shows and doing research to ensure that stock in the store is truly the best, purist, most natural of its kind. That’s what I like to hear.
I was very curious to uncover Rich’s personal philosophy on food, which has also evolved overtime. He now labels himself a pescavore and touts Michael Pollen’s rule: eat whole foods, and not too much. When asked which superfood Rich recommends everyone incorporate into their diet, he answered either broccoli or kale. No surprise there, eat your greens!
Rich used to be a strict vegetarian, but found that his body was seriously lacking protein, so he welcomed fish back onto his plate. He credits his mother for his introduction to healthy food, although he admits that at the time he despised her a bit for always having the school lunch different from the other kids.
Rich delved deeper into the world of holistic health out of frustration after struggling with rheumatoid arthritis – doctor after doctor and little relief. He started seeking alternative measures and finally began to feel an improvement. His current wellness regimen includes diet, exercise, meditation, and body work, enabling him to enjoy hobbies like snorkeling, hiking, and traveling.
My favorite part of interviewing Rich was when I asked him what’s his favorite food of all time (I mean last meal kind of favorite food.) He literally pondered the question for minutes – I think he went back to every restaurant he’s ever been to and the answer was perfectly calculated. The fried oysters at Casamento’s in New Orleans. If and when I’m in New Orleans, I’ll definitely have to taste ‘em. In case you’re wondering, Rich’s has a few favorites from the Provisions cafe, one being the “Baby Buddah.”
Next, I wanted to know what’s really in the kitchen of the owner of Provisions…anything we’d be surprised to see? Rich said that food at home is almost all from Provisions, but that Ben & Jerry do make an appearance every once in a while.
Last but not least, I asked Rich what originally drew him out East. He’s been coming here since his teenage years, reminiscing of the days with far more beach and far less humans. His favorite spot these days is Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett and the thing about the Hamptons he loves most? Its natural beauty. I concur.
One Healthy Breakdown: Provisions is Rich in history, health, and heart!Follow Me