At the grocery store recently, a woman was returning a frozen turkey. Apparently she found a better price elsewhere. The cashier refunded the $25 and then marked the giant bird for disposal. The customer asked if it couldn’t be donated or something, but the cashier said they couldn’t. The customer was momentarily disappointed but not enough to refuse the refund or consider any Plan B.

I understand the grocery store’s not wanting to risk the chance of malicious contamination or basic under-refrigeration. Certainly its loss of $25 is a mere penny compared to a possible million-dollar lawsuit. Isn’t there a better solution, however? How about a no-return policy on holiday fowl or, perhaps equally necessary, any perishable meat or seafood product? What about dairy or fresh produce? I’m unsure where we would want the grocery store to draw the line. Perhaps the policy could focus on issues solely of safety rather than price comparison.

Sure, many of us could be slightly inconvenienced if such a no-return policy went into effect. Admittedly I’ve returned items to stores, a few times even without the receipt. Who hasn’t? There’s a great deal of difference, however, between returning jeans that easily make their way back to the sales rack, and food that, most often for no true reason other than fear of the unknown, must be tossed.

We are about to dive into the season of returns. Perhaps we as consumers could think a bit more of the big picture. Perhaps, in the spirit of reducing waste, we’d be willing to forgo the decree of the customer always being right. How about thinking of the greater price: consumerism that’s out of control and too many hungry mouths that would’ve given anything to have saved that bird from a large metal dumpster.

Debra Tanguay