Gathering of wild plants as food is a widespread yet poorly-understood practice. The decentralized nature of urban foraging creates challenges in understanding even the most basic aspects of the activity: who engages in it, what and where they gather, considerations and decision-making while gathering, and their motivations for doing so. Though there are limited academic studies of urban foraging activities, there is a wealth of popular literature on the practice, much of it written by practitioners. This study uses analytical readings of these works to improve our understanding of urban foraging and the closely-related practice of eating invasive species, with a focus on gathered plants in North America. Motivation for practitioners is in part reflected by implied or explicitly stated benefits, such as nutrition, health, or medicinal benefit; emotional or psychological benefits such as closer connection to nature, socialization, or recreation; frugality or food security; sustainability or benefits to local ecosystems; or a host of other potential benefits stated by authors. Recommended precautions are of particular interest, as they reveal factors taken into consideration in choosing sites and species to gather, and how practitioners account for potential exposure to pollutants in urban settings. Vehicle emissions, lead-based paints on the exterior of older buildings, pesticide use, and other factors create variable gradients of potential exposure to contaminants, some of which may accumulate in plant tissues. Eating invasive species is promoted as one way to reduce populations of invasive plants; however, the over-harvesting of native species can threaten some populations. An improved understanding of urban foraging practices will provide a basis for estimating the potential effects of gathering wild food plants in the city on human health and on plant community dynamics.