This Is Why Canadians Drink Milk Out of Bags

Canada has officially left all of America saying, "...eh?"

If you’ve ever visited our neighbor to the north, you may have noticed something peculiar about how milk is sold in grocery stores. You won’t always find milk in a familiar carton or jug—but you may find it in a nine-pound clear plastic bag. But why? We need answers, Canada.

Drinking milk out of bags isn’t new—in fact, Canadians have been doing this since the late 1960s. Before Canadian food and packaging company DuPont unveiled their thin, plastic milk bags in 1967, they used glass bottles instead. Ultimately, all of those glass bottles weren’t exactly cost-efficient—and, with Canada’s conversion to the metric system in 1970, it was far easier to comply with metric units in bag form than it was to redesign and manufacture new bottles and jugs. So, the plastic milk bag was born. Today, drinking milk out of a bag is most popular in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. By the way, this is why Americans refrigerate their milk and Europeans don’t.

It’s estimated that half of all milk in Canada is sold in bags. Surprisingly, Canada isn’t the only place where people drink their milk out of bags. Bagged milk is also a common find in India, China, Russia and plenty of other countries around the world. Of course, Canada doesn’t just drink its milk out of plastic bags because it’s more cost-effective—it also might be more environmentally efficient. Because a thinner bag of plastic is made up of 75 percent less plastic than the average milk jug and is easier to ship, Eater suggests that bagged milk is the way to go.

While there are a few places where this unfamiliar packaging is available in the United States, your best bet to trying bagged milk may be heading straight to Canada. Looking at your milk jug and wondering if it’s as interesting as bagged milk? It is! In fact, there’s a secret code hidden in all those numbers. Here’s where to find the secret code on your gallon of milk and what it means.

  • Sources:
    CBC: “Here’s why milk comes in bags in parts of Canada”
    Eater: “Milk in Bags, Explained”

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest