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What's in season at the Union Square Greenmarket: December

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Just because winter is around the corner (technically, it's fall until December 21) is no excuse to stop going to the greenmarket and supporting local farmers. For many people, hearing the words "farmers' market" brings to mind picture-perfect heirloom tomatoes, stone fruit, and berries, but even when these are long gone, there are still many reasons to venture out with a couple of canvas bags and fill them to the brim with great produce. Here are a few things to get excited about at the greenmarket this month.

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Watermelon radishes: Cut these green orbs in half to reveal a sunburst of radiant magenta color. Their arresting appearance is matched by a distinctively spicy flavor. Shave these raw into a salad to add a splash of color, or serve them with a dip like this feta dip with watermelon radishes from Bon Appétit.

Sunchokes: Also called a Jerusalem artichoke, these ginger-like roots are neither from Jerusalem nor do they taste like artichokes. Whatever they're called, they're absolutely delicious: Their sweet, nutty flavor is often compared to water chestnuts when raw and similar to Yukon gold potatoes when cooked. They can be shaved thinly and fried to make chips, roasted in the oven which turns their interiors soft and creamy, or puréed into a soup like this sunchoke soup with pumpkin seeds recipe from Epicurious.

Carrots: Boring? Hardly. The flavorful specimens on display at the greenmarket at this time of year are a far cry from those cardboard-flavored sticks of fiber down at the corner bodega. They come in a variety of colors, not just orange: purple, yellow, red, and yes, even black. Pick up a couple bunches (the smaller ones with green tops intact work well for roasting), and try this excellent chipotle-roasted baby carrots recipe from Alex Stupak, chef-owner of New York City's Empellón Cocina, known for its avant-garde take on Mexican cuisine.

Words can only say so much, though. Be sure to check out the pretty pictures in the slideshow, and then most importantly, get out there and shop, because there's just so much more than could reasonably fit into this little story.

The Union Square Greenmarket is in operation Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., with a different set of vendors each day. To avoid wasting a subway ride, check Grow NYC's website for the day's vendor list and weather-related and holiday closures before going.

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