A couple years ago a microformat was started for recipes on the web, it was picked up by several recipe sites. Google recently added recipes search to their site hitting against the microformat.
The first microformat was proposed at the first SXSW on a session on the future of blogging. That kicked off the idea and a community formed around it. There were some simple ones at first. As more were added, a process started to form for creating future microformats.
There have been some issues with microformats internationally and with accessibility.
Creating a new microformat:
Draft (community agrees on the right way to move forward – stable)
Specification (a stable and mature draft)
Standard (market acceptance)