The True Cause Of The War Of Unification...

…according to Violet Wu, amateur historian and native of Bernadette

It wasn't about conquest, it was about starvation.

By the time the independents began considering their own coalition, the core planets were already importing nearly half their food. If the planets that sold them their crops formed their own alliance, they had the power to cut off food from the core worlds. The core worlds had allied themselves some twenty five years earlier, and saw this as a real threat. Secretly the Alliance government began stockpiling food, realizing that they would probably have to take control by force of the planets that were supplying their food. They held out hope that they could convince the planets of the border and rim to join them willingly, but that ended when a large group of the outer worlds formed their own organization, the Independent Planets. There are disagreements as to who struck first, as there were many minor confrontations, but it's generally recognized that the invasion of Athens was the first official attack of the war, in 2506. The Alliance had underestimated the resolve of the independents, and food supplies were starting to run low when Blue Sun corporation pioneered the production of synthetic food from methane and ammonia and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of the gas giant Dragon's Egg at the edge of the Blue sun system in 2509. Most scholars agree that without the synthetics, generally referred to as 'protein' (even though it also contained carbohydrates and fats) the Alliance would have been forced to capitulate.

Here's one of the bars of "vitamins and immunization supplements. One of those will feed a family for a month. (Longer if they don't like their kids too well.)" minus the foil wrapping. The Alliance navy added these to the raw synthetic food to make it nutritionally balanced for their crew.

The very existence of the Dragon's Egg food plant remained classified top secret until two years after the war. By that time Blue Sun (and a few other smaller producers) had set up complexes in the upper atmosphere of the other four gas giant planets in the 'Verse (Heaven, Zeus, Djinn's Bane, and Fury). They then began selling the synthetic food commercially with the Alliance's permission.

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