As a trend forecaster, one of the questions I get asked most often other than, "What's the hot new handbag?" is: "Where do you find your trends???" The answer is never easy. It's always a complicated mix of talking, reading, researching, travelling and on and on. However, after a recent dinner with friends, I left with not one but three trends I hadn't yet heard about. I was giddy as a schoolgirl and couldn't wait to see where they might lead...
Although polarizing mom stereotypes dominated the last decade between schlepping soccer moms and absent career women, there is a new breed of mother who offers an interesting hybrid of the two, the Femivore. Although originally written about in the New York Times in 2010, we haven't read much about her lately, but you've undoubtedly seen here in her wellies, on her way into Whole Foods with her reusable bags. Of course, she's only stopping in for the products she can't buy at the local farmer's market or better yet, grown at home. The extreme Femivore has her own chickens, but has learned through experience in the work world not to count them before they hatch. She is likely to be well educated, self-sufficient and prides herself on how well she nurtures her household and herself -- because it's as much about personal fulfillment as it is about her family. Will the Femivore find all this ultimately worthwhile and a way to, as the NYT said, "embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper"? Will it change the way we eat and live as a society? Or will women get tired of tending their gardens and move on once the kids have grown? In the meantime, beware the Femivore, and don't ever call her a Soccer Mom.
From across the globe comes another new moniker for a very different kind of gal. Times have been tough for Japan over the last few decades. Recent financial stagnation has displaced Japanese men from their societal pedestals, because persistent unemployment clashes with traditional notions of machoism and submissive women. The men are at a loss of how to revive Japan's faltering economy. Who will rescue them??? THE WOMEN! Enter the new gender dichotomy: Herbivore Boys and Carnivore Girls, a flip of traditional gender roles in a nation steeped in tradition. Rising female empowerment gave shape to the Carnivore Girls class, women characterized by their killer style and independence in the workplace and in love. Calling the shots over the more effeminate males, Carnivore Girls are crowding Japan's chic restaurants to order raw chicken, pork, beef and even horse meat -- a contrast to conventional raw fish sushi. This battle between meat and fish is much like Japan's emerging battle of the sexes. The women are large and in charge, much like the "riot grrlls" of the early aughts over in America. But maybe these carnivorous chicks should be called "RAAAAWWWW grls." Clearly his trend will affect more than just cuisine, as we could see a major societal role shift in Japan's conservative culture should the Carnivore Girls really bite.
That night, I was dining at Ray's, a fairly new restaurant in LA outside the increasingly fabulous LACMA museum. The food from chef Kris Morningstar was delicious and clearly fresh, but upon further inquiry, I discovered that the restaurant employs a "forager." While immediate images of the Hobbit came to mind, it turns out that this rather normal looking individual goes out every day to local farms, open spaces, and individual producers to uncover the hippest, freshest ingredients. This curious culinary career was how I wound up enjoying a succulent nectarine salad with buratta, foraged lettuce, and lambs' quarters. Although "farm to table" isn't the newest trend, foraging was a foreign concept. While hunting and gathering feels like a step backwards, it is a step forward for haute cuisine, and eventually our daily diets.